5 Dynamic Bodyweight Exercises to Improve Overall Fitness

Get out of the sagittal plane more often to take your fitness to the next level!

Everyone can benefit from adding some more dynamic bodyweight exercises into their training. As a functional training coach, I often see that ALL of my clients feel stronger and healthier when diversifying their training; from elite powerlifters, to long-time marathon runners, and even my own mom.

In your standard fitness class or gym programming, it is overwhelmingly common that we see tons of sagittal exercises, with little to no rotational movements, and rarely any dynamic multi-planar movements. The truth of the matter is that yes, we do walk (and live) in a primarily sagittal plane (forward), but in that motion we are also creating rotation, fighting rotation, and shifting our weight laterally throughout the walking motion.

So if the human body is capable of such precise, sophisticated, and at times complex movements, then why do we lack so much of them in our training?

My goal isn’t to answer the previous question, nor convince you that becoming a well-rounded athlete will enhance your overall performance. That’s something you have to try out for yourself and see!

My mission in the fitness industry is to demonstrate that we don’t necessarily need a fancy gym membership to get fit, feel good, and move well. You have all of the tools at your own disposal, your own body. Check out these dynamic bodyweight exercises below that you can start incorporating into your fitness regimen.

1. Good Morning Squat 

Prescription:

  • 3 rounds
  • 1 minute each side
  • Minimal rest between rounds

Description:

Starting with your feet shoulder-width apart, spine long, and chest proud, hinge at the hips driving your hips as far back as you can until you feel a deep stretch in the hamstrings. Keep your shoulders above your hips as you start to drive your knees forward into a squat. Try to get your spine as vertical as possible, then reverse the movement, and repeat.

Benefits:

This is a fantastic movement for accessing deeper range in both the hinge and squat end ranges. It will both lengthen the posterior chain as well as priming the ankles for loaded squats.

2. Lateral Reach from Deep Ape

Prescription:

  • 3 rounds
  • 40 to 60 seconds
  • Rest as needed
  • Focus on your breath

Description:

From a deep ape position with a long neutral spine and proud chest, press your knees out laterally. With one arm, reach overhead laterally, bending at the waist, as you stretch out your lats. Maintain a strong squat, and long spine as you alternate sides.

Benefits:

This combo exercise is going to open up your ankles, groin, and hips while getting a deep lat stretch at the same time.

3. Rotational Crab

Prescription:

  • 3 to 5 rounds
  • 45 seconds work
  • Rest as needed

Description:

From a “crab” position, face up with hands and feet on the ground, push one hand off the ground as you shift your weight forward. Use your abs to drive your knees over your toes as you come into a deep squat. Follow the direction of the momentum as you place one hand on the ground and return to your crab position. Alternate sides.

Benefits:

This is by far one of my favorite exercises! It literally takes every part of your body, from fingertips to toes, to generate force to initiate the movement then stop the momentum altogether. So not only is this exercise teaching you how to create powerful rotational force, but it is also teaching you how to control and oppose the forces as well.

4. Lateral Ape with Extended Leg

Prescription:

  • 4 to 5 rounds
  • 40 seconds
  • Rest as needed
  • Quality reps only

Description:

Starting in a deep ape position, drive your knees out and keep a long spine, keeping your heels planted on the ground. Frame one foot with your hands and hop over laterally, landing with the leading leg extended. Be sure to plant your entire palm on the ground when transitioning with your arms straight. Shift your weight onto the bent leg, extend the opposite leg, and alternate sides.

Benefits:

The lower body is going to benefit tremendously from this variation. It both lengthens and stretches the muscles of the inner thigh (adductors), opens up the groin, ankles, and also helps reinforce maintaining a long neutral spine and proud chest.

5. Sprawl to Crab Reach

Prescription:

  • 5 rounds
  • 30 seconds work
  • 30 seconds rest
  • Quality reps only

Description:

Start in a deep ape position, reach one hand behind you, placing it on the ground. Keeping your heels down, drive your hips up towards the ceiling squeezing your abs and glutes at the top. Reach towards the floor with your free arm framing your head, and return to your deep ape. Then place your hands in between your feet as your jump your feet behind you into a push-up position. Maintain a proud chest with your shoulders down and back as you squeeze your glutes, lengthening your spine, as you drive your hips down towards the ground. Hop back to your deep ape and alternate sides.

Benefits:

This dynamic movement combo will help increase your heart rate and blood flow while priming many of the major joints of the body like the shoulders, hips, ankles, and thoracic spine (mid-back). Creating rotation throughout the thoracic spine increases your range of motion which can be restricted on many of us, allowing you to have more stability in the low back and neck while working out.

Feature image from @francheskafit Instagram page. 

Francheska Martinez

Francheska Martinez

Francheska Martinez is a Certified ONNIT Academy and ANIMAL FLOW Coach, specializing in kettlebells and bodyweight training.Known as FrancheskaFit on social media, she is recognized for her signature moves integrating ANIMAL FLOW, kettlebells, and explosive movements.Currently living in Austin, Texas, Francheska now travels the country teaching her training philosophy and bodyweight techniques. She also teaches movement classes in Austin to encourage others to learn how to build their mind-body connection to master their own bodyweight training.Prior to moving to Texas, Francheska studied Exercise Sports Science at the University of Central Florida. While in college, she also developed an affinity for weight lifting and running.Some of her favorite pastimes and hobbies are dancing, flag football, rollerblading, and cycling.As of 2019, Francheska is building her online training presence by launching her own Bodyweight Fundamentals Course (FrancheskaMartinez.com) to reach a wider audience and promote movement as medicine.

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