That’s the one where you hold a weight overhead on the floor and stand up. And yes, it’s tricky. “It’s a mix of strength, balance and co-ordination, and it’s seriously impressive when someone can boss around a heavy kettlebell – anything over a 24kg is good going,” says strength coach Will Purdue. “Start light and focus on smooth technique.”
“Honestly, seeing someone perform full range-of-motion pull-ups – that’s chest to the bar at the top, straight arms at the bottom – with a two to three-second ‘down’ phase always catches my eye as it’s pretty rare to see in most gyms,” says trainer Joel Burgess . Do it with added weight, and that’s some proper functional strength.
Hold a bar overhead with a wide grip, then squat and stand up. Sound easy? It’s not. “Even doing these with an empty bar is a test of your hip, knee, ankle and shoulder mobility,” says James Adamson, owner of Skorpion Fitness. “But it also teaches you to squat with your chest up, which will carry over to your regular squats. If a barbell’s too much, start with a stick.”
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From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.