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Fundamental fitness: 2 in 1

The expert:

Ranah Farkhondeh, Tier X coach and master instructor at E Madison Avenue in New York City

The interpretation:

To function at the highest level, you need balanced strength. Farkhondeh didn't always have it.

Long before her training career, she spent years doing too much indoor cycling, a knee-dominant activity that bolsters the anterior muscles (those in the front of the body). Adopting a more well-rounded routine helped her correct the resulting imbalances.

“I noticed a lot of shoulder and hip flexor tightness during my handstand practice,” Farkhondeh says, so she deliberately balanced her training with more posterior chain exercises, like hip-dominant lifts and upper-body pulling drills. Once she made that change, she noticed improved alignment and control during inversions.

A reliable and efficient way to achieve strength in every area of the body is by practicing exercises that hit two of the fundamental movement patterns at once, which is the case for every exercise in Farkhondeh’s workout below. “It leaves no room for any of the major muscle groups to go neglected,” she says.

The strategy also adds a layer of complexity to each move. It often requires you to perform a drill you’d normally do in a sturdy position (for example, a bent-over row with feet at hip-width) on a less stable base of support (like in a lateral lunge). This further challenges your balance and core strength.

The workout:

Perform 8 to 10 reps of each move as a circuit, using moderate weights or resistance. Complete 3 to 4 rounds, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between each. Do it once or twice a week as your full-body strength routine. 

Horizontal push to vertical pull: Floor press to lat pullover 

Lie faceup on a mat with a dumbbell in each hand, elbows out to the sides and bent at 90 degrees, knees bent, and feet at hip-width. With palms facing forward, press the dumbbells up until your arms are extended. At the top, rotate your arms so the palms face each other and lower the weights to the ground behind your head, keeping arms straight throughout. Reverse the motion to return to start for one rep. 

Vertical push + hips: Single-arm overhead press to windmill

Stand tall with feet wider than hips, left arm by your side, and a dumbbell in your right hand at your shoulder as if at the top of a bicep curl. Simultaneously press the dumbbell overhead and rotate your arm so your palm faces forward at the top. Then, point your left toes out, look up at the dumbbell, and hinge at the hips, lowering your torso laterally until your left hand is in line with the left ankle. Reverse the motion to return to start for one rep. Do all reps on this side, then switch sides and repeat.

Knees + horizontal pull: Lateral lunge to bent-over row

Stand tall with feet together, arms by your sides, and a dumbbell in each hand. Simultaneously lower into a lateral lunge with the right leg and hinge at the hips, leaning your torso forward. (At the bottom of the lunge, your arms should be extended with the dumbbells sandwiching your right leg.) Row the dumbbells up to your chest, lower them, and press through the entire foot to return to start for one rep. Do all reps on this side, then switch sides and repeat. 

Core + horizontal push: Superman plank to push-up 

Get in a high plank with feet at hip-width and shoulders stacked over wrists. Walk your hands forward as far as you can while keeping your body in a straight line. Hold for 1 second at the farthest point, walk your hands back to high plank, and perform a push-up for one rep. 

Horizontal pull + core: Renegade row to dumbbell drag

Get in a high plank with feet at hip-width, shoulders stacked over wrists, and a dumbbell behind your right hand. Row the dumbbell up to chest height with the right hand, lower it back to the ground, and return to high plank. Reach the left hand under your body, pick up the dumbbell, place it on the ground behind your left hand, and return to high plank. Repeat the row on the left side, then use the right hand to move the dumbbell back to start for one rep. 

Hips + vertical push: Kneeling hip extension to overhead press

Kneel with knees at hip-width and a dumbbell in each hand at your shoulders, as if at the top of a bicep curl. Lower your glutes toward your heels and lean forward, keeping your back straight throughout, and return to a tall kneeling position. Simultaneously press the dumbbells overhead and rotate your arms so the palms face forward at the top. Reverse the motion to start for one rep. 

Knees + vertical pull: Reverse lunge to bent-over overhead pull

Loop a resistance band around a sturdy anchor point at about chest height. Hold the handles and stand far enough from the anchor point that there’s resistance in the band. Lower into a reverse lunge with the left leg and tilt your head down so it’s in line with the band. At the bottom of the lunge, pull the handles toward you until your elbows are in line with your shoulders. Reverse the motion to return to start for one rep.

Photography by Laura Barisonzi

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