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Functional Exercises: Pull

June means new month, new functional exercise. Y'all bear with me, I started writing this at the beginning of the month lol.

In case you’re new here, functional exercises are exercises that mimic movements you do in your daily life. They work to improve strength, balance, and coordination as well as joint range of motion and overall quality of life. Functional exercises recruit multiple muscle groups, which means they use more than one joint and take more energy to perform. A plus for fat loss. But these exercises use free weights, like dumbbells and kettlebells, or bodyweight instead of exercise machines. Exercise machines target one specific joint or group of muscles.

There are seven functional exercises and so far, we’ve gone over the hinge, squat, lunge, and push movements. If you missed those, here’s a link to access them as well as other great tips to help you with your journey.

This month we’ll go over the pulling movement. Seems obvious, right? The opposite of pushing. It’s a bit more to it. Let’s pull over and park it for a second.

Quick science lesson. We have muscles, right? For us to move our body parts, our muscles must contract. Let’s call these contractions muscle actions. There are three types of actions our muscles make: isometric, concentric, and eccentric.

Imagine (Or you can do this!) that you’re doing a biceps curl. Before you start that curl you are holding the weight in your hand with no movement. That’s an isometric action of the biceps muscle. When you lift the weight into a curl, your biceps muscle is creating a concentric action. And when you return that weight to starting position your biceps are helping you to control that movement with an eccentric action.

Isometric Action: No movement of the muscle but it is still working to maintain position. Think about doing a plank.

Concentric Action: The muscle is shortened by moving from point A to B. The action of bringing your arm up into a biceps curl.

Eccentric Action: The muscle is lengthened by moving from point B to A.

With this muscle action imagine brakes. When the muscle creates this action, it is to slow and control the movement. Imagine if you didn’t activate your biceps muscle when moving your arm back to starting position. The weight and your arm would drop immediately because of gravity. Psst, these are your push exercises.

Hold on to this now! It’s important and can be used when grouping exercises for your workouts. I’ll explain this in a later post. In the meantime, remember muscle action is an energy-consuming (this means calorie-burning) movement and is essential to strength training.

Alrighty, let’s get back on track. I said all of that to say that pull exercises involve concentric muscle actions. They help with picking up heavy objects and getting up with ease. Just as there are push exercises for the lower body, there are pull exercises for the lower body too. We often associate push and pull with just working are hands, arms, and back. BUT, pull exercises work to strengthen your shoulders, back, glutes, and legs, improving your posture and gait (the way you walk).

As always, remember proper form when completing pull exercises and when standing in general. You want both feet in line with your hips and shoulders. Chest up and out, shoulders back and down.

Here Are a Few Pull Exercises to Help You

Lat Pull Downs

Targets: Back, Shoulders

Bent-Over Rows

Targets: Back, Biceps

Single Arm Dumbbell Rows

Targets: Back

Biceps Curls

Targets: Biceps, Forearm muscles

Shoulder Shrugs

Targets: Shoulders, Back, core


Targets: Hamstrings, Glutes, Hip Flexors, Back, Core, Shoulders

Leg Curls

Targets: Hamstrings, Calf Muscles

Kettlebell Swings

Target: Full-body, Cardio

Add these to your arsenal and after we close out with functional exercises, I’ll help you learn how to choose and group exercises to create your workouts for better results.

While you're here, check out pics of my friend's transition and her wedding!

And a snippet of my adventures while in Mississippi and New Orleans for her wedding!

I also had the honor of working with a few coworkers to create a 5k. Check out a few of those pics too!


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