Full body exercises offer a number of advantages over those that only target a small number of muscles or joints. Full body exercises develop coordination, burn large amounts of energy and also have the greatest carry over to everyday activities and sports. Exercises that utilize multiple muscles and joints are also very time efficient and allow you to get a lot of exercise done in a short amount of time making them ideal if you are in a hurry.
Burpees are used by a variety sports and military people to develop whole body muscular endurance and anaerobic conditioning. To perform a burpee, begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms by your sides. Squat down and place your hands on the floor outside of your feet. Jump your feet backwards and adopt the push up position. Perform one push up. Jump your legs back in so that they are under your body. Drive with your legs and leap into the air before landing on the balls of your feet, slightly bending your knees to absorb the shock. Immediately perform another repetition and continue for the desired duration. If you want to perform an easier version of the burpee, you can eliminate the push up and/or the jump.
The power clean is a simplified version of one of the Olympic weight lifting exercises and develops whole-body explosive strength and coordination. To perform a power clean, stand behind a barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and hold the bar with an over-hand shoulder-width grip, keeping your arms your arms straight. Maintain the natural curves of your spine and look straight ahead. From this position, explosively lift the bar from the floor without pulling with your arms. As the bar reaches hip level, thrust your hips forward and rise up onto your toes and pull on the bar with your arms while keeping your body tall. As the bar passes your chest, dip under it to catch it across the front of your shoulders with your elbows elevated and upper arms parallel to the floor. Pause and then lower the bar to the floor – catching it on your thighs to slow the descent.
Performing this exercise will increase your whole body explosive power whilst emphasizing the muscles of your legs and lower back. If you don’t have access to a kettlebell, you can perform swings using a dumbbell. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of you in both hands. Push your hips back and bend your knees so that your hands are between your legs at just below knee height. Extend your knees and drive your hips forward whilst simultaneously swinging the kettlebell/dumbbell to the front. Swing the weight up to eye level. Control the kettlebell/dumbbell as it descends whilst flexing the hips and knees to return to the start position. Maintain a tight core and neutral spine throughout this exercise and avoid rounding your back. Repeat by maintaining a steady rhythm.
Performed with a barbell, dumbbells or medicine ball, thrusters are an effective exercise for developing power throughout your entire body. Grip the barbell, dumbbells or medicine ball as if you were going to perform a shoulder press–this is your starting position. Push your hips back and lower yourself into front squat position. Your knees should be bent to 90 degrees, your thighs parallel to the floor and your torso upright. Dynamically drive out of the squat position whilst simultaneously extending your elbows and pressing the weight over head. Lower the weight to the shoulders and then drop back down into the front squat to repeat.
High pulls are similar but less technically demanding than the power clean. You can use either a barbell or a rubber exercise band when performing this exercise. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp a barbell with a narrower than shoulder-width grip or, alternatively, place a rubber exercise band beneath your feet and hold it in both hands with your arms held straight. Bend at the knees and push your hips back until your hands are level with your knees. Push your hips forward and extend your knees whilst simultaneously pulling with your arms until your hands are under your chin and you are stood upright. Immediately lower your arms and bend your knees to return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions while training to maintain a steady rhythm.