Author Topic: Functional Fitness Crash Course  (Read 4942 times)


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Functional Fitness Crash Course
« on: February 11, 2009, 09:02:59 AM »

Okay...I'd promised this before, but here goes.  I'll give a disclaimer out of the way up front...I'm not a trainer (I'm married to a trainer however) so you can't take this as professional advice.  If you have health issues, structural problems, etc - talk to your doctor first.

This is essentially what I do when I'm not training for a race (I do triathlons).  It's very basic, and very effective.  It will build core strength - which is the most important area for everyday fitness and usefullness.  I don't care if my muscles look "pretty" - I care if they work, can work for a long time at a high level, and can take lots of punishment.  In the off season, I want quick and effective workout.  I don't want to be at this for hours - I do enough of that during my race year.  This will take you 25-45 minutes, depending on how many sets you want to do.  It utilizes interval training, causing heart rate to go up in short, substantial bursts.  Intervals are a much more effective method of changing body composition that what most of us are used too. To those of you that think you need to go out and run 10 miles a day to be in great shape - take a look at distance runners, do you want to look like that?  Take a look at sprinters?  That's the difference.  And in our circumstances - short, violent, powerful bursts are what will most likely be required. 

Okay - so here you go.

Stuff you need:
Pull up bar - you can get one that goes in your door for next to nothing.
Weights - get 15 to 20 pound dumbells and some 25 - 35 pound dumbells.  Go to Wal-Mart - they're cheap.
That's all you have to have...if you have a treadmill, great - if not you can work without it.

Keep in mind, this is self-adjusting.  You adjust to YOUR fitness and exertion level.

Warm up:
Walk of the treadmill for .25 miles at about brisk pace then jog .25 miles at a SLOW pace.  If you do not have a treadmill, run in place for 2 minutes, and do jumping jacks for two minutes.

Workout - go QUICKLY from one exercise to the next - DO NOT STOP TO REST.
*Pushups for ONE MINUTE.  I know you'll have to stop and rest, that's okay.  Just keep doing them until the timer goes off.  When you rest - rest in the "up" position (it helps strengthen the core).
*Pull ups - I don't care what kind.  Chinups, pull ups, wide grips, etc, etc.  Do them for ONE MINUTE.  You'll REALLY have to take breaks on this one!
*Bicep Curls for ONE MINUTE.
*Shoulder Work for ONE MINUTE - I do upright rows, shoulder flys or shoulder presses.
*Off to the treadmill.  Run/Jog .25 miles at a quick pace for you.  Jog/Walk .25 miles at a slow pace for you.  If you don't have a treadmill - do jumping jacks for two minutes.
Repeat for a total of three rounds.

Once you get to where you can do three rounds, add a fourth.  Once you can add a fourth, do not add another round - just start doing the exercises to FAILURE instead of one minute.

It's brutal, but it's quick and VERY effective.

When you get bored with standard pushups - google spiderman pushups, or prison cell pushups, or chuck ups, etc..etc.  There are a million varieties.

If you're serious - I would also recommend some method of tracking calories.  I use an online log at  It's free and works really well.  It's under the training log.  My wife has people literally weigh their food for a week so that they learn what a serving size is.  A "bowl" of cereal is not a's a bowl.  The food thing may sound silly - but it's REALLY important for survival planning to know how many calories you truly eat.  I will promise you - you eat WAY more than you think you do.

So - that's it.  I know it's kind of vague, but it's what I do.  I'm sure it's not original to my wife, but she put it together for me about a year ago.

If you're already in pretty good shape and you want a serious challenge and fitness program - take a look at P90X.  It's everything they claim it to be. 


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Re: Functional Fitness Crash Course
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2009, 10:12:30 PM »
Good advice, thanks.

Offline sylvan

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Re: Functional Fitness Crash Course
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2009, 09:49:18 PM »
Awesome workout.  I really like the pull up as all variations are a great way to work the upper body without expensive equipment.  A pull up bar is inexpensive and easy to find or easy to craft for us DIY folks.  Problem is, some of us haven't done one in years.  I found a great article which was written by Jason Anderson and Nicole Nichols on how to work up to a pull up.  It includes methods for folks with access to machines and without.  Important also are the intervals and reps to work your way up.  I will post the link and the text here in case the sight every goes down.  Good luck.

You Can Progress to a Pull Up

Time Involved: Two 10-minute sessions a week, for several weeks
Muscles Worked: Back and Biceps

How to Train at the Gym
Using the strength training machines at the gym is probably the best way to train for pull ups.
Phase 1: Start your training on the seated lat pulldown machine. Start lifting about 25% of your
weight until you can perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions in good form. Then move to Phase 2.
Phase 2: Continue on the lat pull down machine, but perform the exercise while standing up
instead of sitting (a cable cross machine will also work in this phase, if you're familiar with using
it). Increase your resistance over time until you can lift 50% of your body weight as resistance for
2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions in good form. Then you're ready for Phase 3.
Phase 3: Continue performing the standing lat pulldowns (or, if your gym has it, move on to the
assisted pull up machine). Increase your resistance over time until you can lift 80% of your body
weight as resistance for 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions with good form. Once you can do this,
you're ready for the real thing!
Phase 4: Pull ups! Once you've mastered Phase 3, you should be able to perform about 2-5 pull
ups without assistance. Congratulations!

How to Train without Equipment
If you do not have access to gym equipment, that is OK. If you have access to a pull up bar (or even some
monkey bars at a playground!), then grab a friend for some help. Be sure to use good form (grab the bar
at about shoulder-width, crossing your feet and ankles, and bending your knees so that your feet are off
the ground, as if kneeling). Your friend can assist you by grabbing your feet and legs to assist you as you
lift to the top position. Try to lower yourself back down each time on your own, without assistance. Over
time, have your friend give you less and less assistance as you get strong enough to lift more of your
weight on your own.
If you are alone, you can still work on strengthening your pull up muscles, even without a spot. To do so,
stand on a box, grab the bar, take a little jump to the "up" position. Lower yourself down as slowly as
possible. This “negative phase” of the exercise will still strengthen the muscles to help you with pulling
up. Try to do 2-3 sets of as many reps as you can, assisted or unassisted, 3-4 times each week and you'll
be doing the real ones on your own in no time!

General Training Tips
Be sure to rest these muscle groups for 1-2 days after each of your training sessions. Resting is
just as important as training, because recovery is what will help you repair, rebuild and get
Eat right. You can't make muscles out of just any old food—you need to fuel them properly
before and after each workout to ensure you're getting the most of your workouts.
Don't neglect your other muscles. A sound strength training program, which targets each of your
major muscle groups, is important for avoiding injury and creating balance.
Mix it up. It will take several weeks to master pull ups if you're starting from square one, and
you're sure to reach a few plateaus along the way. If you experience several weeks of stagnant
progress, change things up.
Keep at it. If you don't continue to practice your pull ups, you'll lose the strength that took you
weeks to build up. Practice your pull ups on a regular basis, aiming for 2 training sessions each
week to maintain your newfound strength and skills.


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Re: Functional Fitness Crash Course
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2009, 09:57:44 PM »
I am also not a trainer.  I can however relate my own experience with a device called a Kettle Bell.  They come in a bunch of different weights, the work outs are ten minutes or less and the CV and muscular benefits, while not instant because it's hard, and real, are amazing.  Look them up.  Be careful.  These are hard workouts, although they don't have to be.  The equipment, if weighted right, is one "thing" as opposed to " a bunch of things".   They take up little space, are ridiculously inexpensive compared to a weight set and are portable, effective and stupid versatile.   Just google it.  No endorsement brand wise, it's a Russian military cannon ball with a handle.  You could probably make one yourself.

Offline Family Guy

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Re: Functional Fitness Crash Course
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2009, 09:19:21 AM »
Hello from a fellow Kentuckian.  I'm going to try this.  My MD says I need to drop a hundred pounds or so.  Hey, I admit it I'm a big guy.  312.5 at my MD appointment last month.  I've been talking about buying an exercise bike.  Talk is cheap.  I hadn't really thought about jumping jacks and likely haven't did one since, well gee I don't know.
I have the dumbbells.  You know,  I"m thinking about starting new post on this and posting my weight weekly.  Kinda like a survivalist version of weight watchers. 


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Re: Functional Fitness Crash Course
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2009, 11:11:40 AM »

I am new to the forum and this is the first place I feel I can contribute with some knowledge. I think the workouts above are great for core strength, to shed the amount pounds you mention you are going to need some cardio.

Just a couple things to think about if this is the first time you have really tried to get fit/loose weight:
-Find something that you like to do _anything_ that you like to do (walking, cycling, running, walk to play golf instead of a cart, gym machine... whatever). If you like it you are more likely to want to do it when you feel crappy.
-Do it consistently - make a schedule and stick to it. Make sure you schedule rest days, the recovery will make you more fit more quickly than tearing yourself down all the time. For me Monday's are rest, Tuesdays are medium-high intensity, Wednesdays are long-low intensity, Thursdays are short-very high intensity, Fridays are super easy but I get out there, Saturday is peak day (hardest and longest), Sunday is low intensity based on how I feel after Saturday.
-Set goals and rewards when you hit them. For me a pant size is a good tangible goal especially since as I lose fat and gain muscle my actual weight is changing very little.
-Find somebody to work out with.
-Once you have been doing it for a while try working out 2 short times per day instead of 1 longer one, the pounds will melt off.

If it has been decades since you last did anything I recommend ramping  up weight/distance/intensity slowly to avoid injury. Recognize the difference between muscle soreness (potentially a good thing) and a pull/tear/tendinitis (always bad things).

I went from nearly 200 to 155 pounds in 9 months last year just riding my bike. This year I am changing things up more with some resistance training and swimming.

For me the biggest help in getting rid of fat is not letting myself eat anything or drink anything other than water after 8pm. For my metabolism those close to bed time calories go straight to fat.

Hope this helps - love the forum



Offline fngrlickingood

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Re: Functional Fitness Crash Course
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2009, 09:26:04 PM »
KyFarmer, do you have any videos demonstrating this? It would be great to see on video to watch proper form, etc.

Thanks for posting, this is great information!


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Re: Functional Fitness Crash Course
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2009, 08:38:35 AM »
I think my wife's going to put together a youtube channel in the near future.  She's got quite a client base going in our small little town and some people want videos - who knows, could be a nice cottage industry. 

Much of that she does is in P90X...she was doing it before we knew aboutP90X - but it's the same stuff. 

As for the kettle balls - those things are AWESOME!  You'll be sore in places you didn't know you had!