Train like an athlete with athletic and challenging movements

Here are four movements that will incorporate and challenge your full body for strength, core and balance. Coming from a gymnastics, martial arts, track and field and bodybuilding background, I love athletic workouts. Here is a little secret—anyone at any age, in any profession or with any athletic background can benefit from these movements. By challenging yourself at the next level you also train your nervous system and body in a different way to handle the daily stresses in life, making them more manageable and making it easier to do daily activities. Completing these exercises on a regular basis, you will discover what you can do to improve balance and maintain strength, mobility, and agility.

You can complete four to six sets of these exercises together if you are looking to have a great sweat and challenge yourself with a dynamic workout. Rest 60-90 seconds between sets if needed (transition time is also just enough if you would like to keep the workout a higher intensity metcon). Exercises can be completed one after another making it a fun circuit.


8-12 reps, alternating

• Start in an athletic stance, feet shoulder-width apart with bar hanging in front and grip palms facing towards the body. The distance between hands on the bar may vary depending on your flexibility at the top of clean movement.
• Drive legs from a mini squat to a high-clean catch position with single-leg knee drive to the medium box.
• Land foot flat on top on the box (movement should be performed quickly and as smooth as possible).
• Hold top position for 3 seconds before transitioning to next rep.


10-20 reps

• Holding dumbbells, transition onto the FitBall in
a kneeling position.
• Start with arms in a downward position resting
on thighs, palms toward the body.
• Twisting palms forward, pull arms toward the shoulder to perform a bicep curl.
• Return to start position with palms towards the body.
• Curl with a controlled tempo 3 seconds up, holding and squeezing the bicep for 1 second on the top of the movement and 3 seconds down.

KEY POINT: Squeezing the abdominals and hips slightly back while performing this exercise will help with balance and stabilizing while on the ball. You can use a friend or a bench to help get onto the ball if you are doing the exercise for the first few times.


8-12 reps (side to side with a tuck is considered one rep)

• Start in a front plank with your hands on the floor, shoulders over your hands, abs engaged and body parallel to the floor (straight line). Place your feet on either side of the stability ball, lightly squeezing your feet together; this will activate your adductors to prevent your legs from slipping off. 
• Keeping your core engaged, twist your hips to the right (like you’re making a rainbow). Touch your foot lightly on the floor and use your obliques to pull your hips back square and then over to the left side. 
• For an added challenge at the end, bring your feet closer together on the top of the ball and tuck your knees into your chest after the side-to-side; lift your hips to the ceiling when you tuck in and return to a plank position on the ball. 
• Return to the starting position with feet on the sides of the ball.

KEY POINT: You can perform one set left to right and the other set right to left. Remember to keep hips elevated throughout the movement.


10-20 reps

• Perform this exercise with or without a weight or ball.
• Lay down on your back with the ball or weight overhead touching the ground, knees bent and feet planted flat on the ground.
• Hold the ball or weight as you throw your arms forward, sitting up and rocking forward to a low squat position.
• Stand up, hold for a second on top and return to the low squat position, laying back down to the start position with arms and weight overhead touching the ground.

KEY POINT: For beginners—or if this is your first time trying this exercise—you can use a small box to sit and lay on. The movements are the same but you have more cushion and support, making the exercise easier to perform. The box is also a great substitute if you have limited range of motion or flexibility in a low squat or if your spinal health is not as functional and you require more support through movement.

Without using a weight or ball, your arms will need to move more quickly.

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Photography by Graham McKerrell

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