Training: Aesthetics vs. Functionalism

By: Praneeth Ellanti

Many people in the gym tend to train certain muscles rather than movement.  Everyone loves big biceps; however, do your biceps ever help complete daily living tasks or improve your athleticism? The answer is no unless of course you are a professional bodybuilder.

Jacked as sh!t, but functional?

Why should I train the movement?

First of all, everyone should know that big muscles mean nothing if they cannot be used properly. Also, not everyone is cut out to be a bodybuilder; therefore, training like one is stupid. Training movement increases quality of life by making everyday activities easier because life is all about movement. There are six types of movement that will be explained in this article – each skill that can transfer to everyday activities and will also help improve your lifts in the gym if added to your program.

1. Carry

A carry is essentially walking with heavy weights while keeping a tight core to avoid any lateral spine movement. A carry will help you achieve a stable core, a death grip and an easier time walking home while carrying groceries. A stable core important for spine health and will help you perform better.

The ultimate farmer’s carry.

Progressions for carries

  1. Farmer walks
  2. Suitcase carries
  3. Racked carry
  4. Waiter carry
  5. Bottom up carry

If you want to learn about other benefits of the carry check this article out by David Wu.

2. Lunge

When things fall down how do you pick things up? Do you bend your back while tying your shoes?

Many people bend with their back while doing these things.

So, what’s the optimal way to perform these actions? Lunge. When things fall down you lunge to pick them. Bending with your back will only lead to eventual back pain. The same applies to tying your shoe, it is much better to spare your back by lunging to tie your shoes. Lunge training can also be considered to be unilateral training, and there is a wide array of benefits that come with it.

Dr. McGill approved way to pick things up.

Progression for lunges

  1. Body weight lunges
  2. Walking lunges with weight
  3. Bulgarian split squats

3. Push

One of the most fundamental things you can do is push things. Whether it’s pushing a door open, a car stuck in the mud or a 250 pound linebacker, having good pushing strength is always a plus. Also, when doing push training, consider the carry over effect. For example, will bench press (horizontal push) help you with pushing something that’s vertical (i.e. a person)? Train the movement that you need to get better at, not the muscle.

You can train push in horizontal direction (push up) or vertical (overhead press).

These dudes should have spent more time in they gym…


  1. Push up on box
  2. Push up
  3. Bench/dumbbell press
  4. Overhead press

4. Pull

You are pulling when you getting out of the pool, opening doors, or rowing the boat on your romantic date. Pulling is one of the most basic movements.

I believe that pulling is one of the least used movements in the gym because many people train the muscles that can only be seen in the mirror (PECS & BICEPS!). This can lead to bad posture and upper cross syndrome (which is very common with students). Eric Cressey recommends 2:1 pull to push ratio to help fix bad posture.

Like push, pull can be performed in both horizontal (rows) and vertical positions (pull ups)

Having a good pull is the key to anyone’s heart.


  1. Face pulls
  2. TRX rows
  3. Seated rows
  4. Dumbbell rows
  5. Bent over rows
  6. Chin ups and its variations

5. Hinge

When you maximally bend at your hips with little bend in the knees you have a hinge! A hinge is typically usually used when there are very heavy weights on the ground and a lunge isn’t possible.

David Wu describes the hinge with this analogy, “Think hinge as a crane and squat as an elevator.” Example of this is when you hinge down to pick up heavy boxes.

Doing so will spare your back.

Check out the following link for advice from Waterloo’s very own Dr. McGill on how to use the hinge pattern:


  1. Hinge pattern with dowel
  2. Single leg Romanian deadlift (RDL)
  3. Barbell  RDL
  4. Deadlift

6. Squat

A squat is maximal bend at the hips and the knees. It is often hailed as the king of lower body exercises by many and not without reason! Squatting has multiple benefits and is the basic movement that can be seen in everyday life. Everyone squats daily when going to the toilet and to sit. Squat can help increase your vertical jump height (although it depends on what type of jumper you are). It can increase knee stability if performed right and also increases the lower body strength. The squat can also be used to test mobility of the hips, ankles and the upper back. If you got a bad squat then most likely you are tight in one of these areas.

The squat is not just an exercise, it’s a qualifier, a corrective exercise and a movement screen all in one!


  1. Goblet squats
  2. Front Squats
  3. Back Squats

To improve your athleticism, improve your whole body movement. Start with the most basic movements and increase the weight before you progress to a more difficult movement.

If these are done properly, you will not only look good naked, you will move like a warrior!


Do you train movement? Did Praneeth help clarify why movement training is so beneficial and effective? Comment below and remember to “like” us on facebook!

Praneeth E warriors club

My name is Praneeth Ellanti (Candidate for B.Sc. in Kinesiology) and I am completely fascinated by movement performance. I believe that mobility and strength is the key to moving, feeling and performing better! People can usually find me by the squat rack or prowler – the two things I believe everyone should do.



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