Integrate this Excellent Compound/Multi-planar/Functional Exercise to Your Summer Fitness Program 2020

While there is no one exercise that does it all, there certainly are excellent exercises which create compound/functional movements, requiring engagement of dozens of muscles/muscle groups working across all three planes of the body. The exercise featured below does all of that and more. However, bear in mind the following tips:

Your body requires enough stress and time for adaptation—so while change and variety are necessary aspects within a well-designed exercise program, there needs to be adaptation to create improvement and progress.  This means performing the exercise/program consistently enough to produce adaptation which leads to positive results.

Programs which require performance of hundreds of repetitions of any one exercise in one training session may lead to overuse injuries and may not yield strength increases. Therefore, be cautious about performing too many repetitions/sets of one exercise because rather than the positive stress/adaptation reaction of the body described above, you may create so much stress that the body cannot adapt and eventually breaks down.  Remember, more is not necessarily better!

While compound/functional exercises are terrific, isolation exercises also have a place in our exercise programs, concentrating on one muscle/muscle group, specifically improving the strength within and around that specific muscle/muscle group and the joints involved. Therefore, combine multi-muscled and compound/functional exercises with isolation exercises creating a comprehensive exercise program.

As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Compound/Multi-planar/Functional Exercise – You will work your lower/upper body as well as your core and feel your heart rate elevate perhaps becoming briefly winded—a good thing!  *Trains the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes/deltoids and nose to toes core.

Alternating knee/squat with overhead press (“rehearse” this exercise without dumbbells first to master the coordination aspects of the skill)

Begin with the feet more than shoulder distance apart, head/neck/shoulders/knees/toes all facing the same direction.

Head/neck in neutral, shoulders packed back/down, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine, pelvic floor pulled up and knees relaxed.

Hold moderate dumbbells suspended by your sides with the palms facing inward toward the thighs.

Hinging from the hip joint and never permitting the torso to drop forward, squat back/down as though you were going to sit in a chair (no lower than 90 degrees of knee flexion), driving your tailbone toward the wall behind you, keeping body weight in your heels so that you are able to wiggle your toes.

As you perform the squat, flex the arms at the elbow joint bringing the dumbbells to shoulder height palms facing inward.

Drive through your heels bringing the left knee up as you stand and press the right arm straight toward the ceiling until the arm is fully extended and the palm is facing forward (i.e. internal rotation).

Squat back down, flexing the arms again, and as you stand up, lift the right knee and press the left arm straight toward the ceiling until the arm is fully extended.

The movement tempo is count one/two on the squat/elbow flexion and three/four as you stand up and perform the unilateral overhead press.

Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions, two to three non-consecutive days/week.

Once you have mastered meticulous form/technique and wish to increase the intensity, attempt to increase the weight by 2.5 percent or perform the exercise from a four-eight-inch step platform or BOSU Balance Trainer further challenging the core.

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby, Colorado.  She may be reached at, and her email at

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