Complicated Fitness: Stop That Shit!

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How to add value to your workouts

Life is busy people! Like so many things we tend to make it a little more complicated than it needs to be – fitness especially. Sometimes we do too much. We see things we want to try and get discouraged when we can’t replicate the movements as we’ve seen. We bite off more than we can chew and make unsustainable commitments and spend hours in the gym until we burn out, fall off and wait to try something new. I’ve been training for years and only after having my son did I realize how overwhelming it could really be. I was suddenly strapped for time and my motivation was low. I tried everything I had been use to but the old ways of split days (working 2-3 muscle groups per day), heavy lifts and hard WODS just weren’t working for me. Isolating muscle groups and trying every other exercise I saw on Instagram wasn’t getting me anywhere. I finally forced my self to take a step back and revisit the place I knew I could build up from and get to know myself better all over again by incorporating functional training into my days. I knew I would make a difference in my everyday quality of life and help rebuild a solid foundation for my other lifts. Because no matter where you are with your level of fitness and what your goals are, we can all profit from adding quality to our workouts and sometimes taking the time to get to know yourself and what YOU specifically need makes all the difference. Fitness is my passion and I love working out, but knowing I’m getting the most from my workouts without spending hours at the gym gives me time for the other important things in my life. I hope that by incorporating some of the following into your routine – you can add quality to your workouts and everyday life too!


Stop it. One thing does not work for everyone and especially videos of people wobbling around on stability balls with a TRX in one hand and a dumbbell in the other, barely holding it together while they coach you through 2 shaky reps. All the while you’re watching, anticipating a yard sale with equipment tossed in all directions…that might be far fetched but I’m willing to bet you’ve seen a video like this at some point and still you thought “wow, that looks tough, I bet that will get me the booty I’m after (myself included) – they’re definitely eye catching. Don’t get me wrong, as a Personal Trainer I am always open to new methods of training and how to change and evolve with your fitness so you can keep it interesting. Therefore I do believe there is a time and place for fun fitspo movements and for someone who has been training for some time, they are a great way to shake up your routine. I am saying however, that they are not a major factor, if any, to your success and just because you see ‘fit people’ performing them doesn’t mean they are of any real benefit to YOUR training. With all the fads you come across with fitness, there will always be a place for functional fitness in your life and it’s a good place to start or start back to when you need to. Not to mention the amount of time or effort and equipment it takes to set some of these movements up. Whether you are a student, business professional, parent or anything in between, your time is precious, use it on training that provides you the best bang for your buck! Let’s replace the fancy with function.


Everyday we push doors open, we pull open cabinet drawers, we rise up and down from a squat or kneeling position to pick something up, we hinge to bend over and give something to our children. These movements are a part of everyday living and when we train movement patterns that mimic these everyday movements with functional exercises rather than isolating individual muscles, we improve the quality of our overall health and well being all the while working on those fitness goals. For example; stronger legs, defined shoulders, weight loss or maybe a solid foundation for other movements like in powerlifting, weightlifting, etc. Functional exercises are full body movements that build strength while improving endurance (burning fat) by working multiple muscle groups at the same time. They promote core stability which in turn support balance, posture, and flexibility – all helping to prevent injury.  AND by working with the functional full body movements, you are saving TIME! All of those benefits just from one exercise. SOLD!


  1. Goal Setting: Set realistic goals for yourself. Of course we all want to be healthy and in shape for the long run but set some short attainable goals in the mean time. Reaching those goals will strengthen you physically and mentally and give you the confidence to move on to the next goal. Whether it’s to workout out 3 times a week for a month or lose 5lbs over 3 months, choose something and stick with it!
  2. Exercises & Equipment: This is where we get into the bang for your buck stuff. Choosing functional movements and equipment can make a huge difference in your training output and the following should be considered when adding function to your workouts: 

Unilateral Training – Training limbs individually as opposed to both sides at the same time (bilaterally) helps to strengthen stabilizing muscles (i.e. inner core muscles and hips) and also help strengthen weaknesses that can occur from bilateral movement compensation over time, where one limb is stronger than the other. It improves joint integrity and aids in training for power and explosiveness by maximizing strength output.

Moving through all 3 planes of motion – Often we overuse one plane of motion with our movement patterns while the majority of our major muscle groups and joints are designed to move through all three. By consciously choosing movements that move us through all 3 we help strengthen our mobility and help reduce the risk of injury. Think about the end game here aside from looking hot. We want to be able to walk and run and play with our kids without pain for as long as we can right? 

Examples of Functional Movements – I’ve put together some full body functional movements that I think are a great addition to any workout. I’ll be continuing to share more as we go!

Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Press This movement is great for developing both Shoulder and Core Stability and Strength. Start by getting into a half-kneeling position with the kettlebell in the opposite hand in the front rack position, heavy side facing up. Keeping your core engaged throughout and your rib cage tucked, fully extend your arm without lifting your shoulder from the set position. Pull the Kettlebell back down by engaging your lats. Slow controlled movements. 

Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlift This is one of my favourites. This movement targets so many muscle groups and is also great for strengthening grip strength. You’re also working your obliques, posterior chain such as your lower back, glutes and hamstrings, as well as quads and traps. It is very important to engage your core throughout this entire movement. Think of getting ready for taking a punch in the stomach. Standing with feet hip width apart and Kettlebell at your side, bend and grab the Kettlebell with your palm facing inward. Keeping your chest up, core engaged, straighten legs and fully extend at the knee without total lockout. Bend at knee and return Kettlebell to starting position. 

Bear Crawl Kettlebell Pull- Throughs This full body movement will work you from head to toe and strengthen your core stabilizers like you wouldn’t believe. Start with hands and knees on the floor. Engaging your core come up onto your toes with your shins remaining parallel to the ground. With the Kettlebell behind your hand use the opposite hand to drag the Kettlebell laterally across to your other side while remaining stable with your core engaged. Repeat on the other side. 

Equipment Some of my favourite equipment to incorporate would have to be of course Kettlebells, Medicine Balls, & Heavy D-Balls. This style of equipment is great for building strength as well as stability while Kettlebells are great for working grip strength and there are SO many exercises you can use with them all!

3. Train Your Weaknesses: Let’s be straight, we tend to avoid the things we aren’t very good at right? But how will you ever get better if you don’t work at them? Find a way to incorporate them into your training. By spending time working on your weaknesses you will improve your overall fitness and mentality together.

4. Time Management: Incorporate functional exercises into your workout routine. By working multiple muscle groups at one time you should be able to get more out of your workouts in less time and hours spent in the gym.

5. Stretching & Recovery: Don’t skip this friends. Many may think that the exercise portion is the backbone to success but trust me when I say that mobility and recovery are just as important. Listen to your body and set it on the path for healthy recovery by stretching, taking solid time aside from your training to work on mobility and rest when your body needs it. Sometimes pushing through when our bodies are telling us otherwise can promote injury and who has time for that?  

6. Analyze & Modify: Don’t aimlessly plug through your programming waiting to see results. Get involved and make note of what is and isn’t working for you. Step back and analyze and modify as you need to. Look for answers and ask questions. You’re not supposed to be built to work for your program – your program is supposed to be built to work for you.


This is THE most important thing! Knowing yourself is knowing what’s best for yourself. If your goal is to be healthy and fit as a lifestyle, then there are no short cuts and ways around it. Invest in getting to know yourself and what works best for you and your body. It will thank you in the long run.

I hope I’ve helped you add some value to the way you go about your fitness and go ahead, add that function in!

I’l be adding a series with more functional movements to come – Hang tight!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great article Tanya! Well written (even I can understand) and some very useful examples that I will certainly incorporate into my workouts.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed it and found some use of it for your own workouts!
      Thanks…Dad 😉

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