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June 22, 2014

CHRIS DAVIES: Change your routine to keep exercise fresh

What is the best form of exercise known to man? It is the exercise you will do briskly and consistently over your lifetime to produce health benefits.

Of late the trend has been to package old exercises and brand them for financial gain. No real new exercises or science has come forward, just more creative marketing. Exercisers tend to get bored with routine and move on to the next big thing.

What I have learned and embraced is open chain, or functional exercises. The difference is you utilize little to no equipment versus the mindset of multiple machines, stacks of weights and all sorts of cardio equipment. The pace is brisk, the rest is limited, the time is utilized efficiently and the results are outstanding. Think of it as training fingertips to toes.

Regardless of your sport or the lifestyle you maintain, this workout will benefit most populations. If you are looking to shed pounds, increase your strength and cardio, feel better and perform faster at your given sport, this stuff is for you.

The best part is you can keep your day job and still compete on weekends. You simply need two to four days and only 20-40 minutes each day to improve your performance. If you are already fast, think of this as some extra octane in the tank as you compete.

A routine can be as simple as 20 jump squats, 20 push-ups and 20 crunches repeated three to five times with little to no rest between exercises. You can change the number of repetitions, exercises, rounds, etc. There are infinite ways to slice it and keep it fresh and effective. A routine as simple as this will improve strength and produce better results when competing.

If you do not compete, would you like to enjoy your activity more with less fatigue and quicker recovery? If you are weeding flower beds, hauling mulch or power shopping, exercise just makes you feel and perform better.

Open chain can be learned easily by most people. But to be truly effective and safe, it should be taught by a qualified professional who understands physiology and kinesiology. A trainer with a weekend fitness certification might not be the best choice to instruct these routines.

Open chain is merely using multiple joints during an exercise. For example, a push-up is more beneficial than the bench press. Why? Because a push-up has you supporting your body weight, incorporating nearly every muscle. A bench press has you lying on your back pressing upwards. Another example is a weighted squat versus a leg press machine. A weighted squat has you supporting and balancing the weight as you perform the exercise. A leg press machine has you lying or sitting while performing the exercise.

Be sure you are performing the exercises correctly and safely to minimize risk for injury. The key is to improve health and fitness, not to injure yourself.

Increasing fitness doesn’t take much time when done correctly. You must be consistent with your routine and vary it regularly to get maximum benefit.

Chris Davies, MS, owns Fitness Solutions, 1101 Walnut St. He can be reached at or at

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