There are two great sporting events happening at the same time. Both require power in the functional lines of the players.
The World Cup is already in full flight. Wimbledon starts tomorrow.
Do you play tennis? You may have wondered what are the best strengthening exercises for that sport? Arms? Shoulders? Legs?
It’s no surprise that the best exercises for most sports involve multiple joints and muscles. The human body has many lines of force, or kinetic chains, where multiple joints and muscles move in an unconscious coordinated fashion to produce complex movements.
In tennis the front functional line and back functional line come into play heavily. In the picture, the player is about to unleash his forehand. The front functional line runs from his right hand, down his right arm, across his torso into his left hip and leg. In the picture that line is in extension and he is about to contract that line powerfully, ending up with his right hand crossing over his body towards his left knee and the whole line being in a state of contraction. The front functional line is used heavily during serves and forehand shots, whereas the back functional line is used more for backhand shots.
You also see the functional lines in action in football. In the first picture the functional line running from the right hand to the left foot is fully extended prior to the kick. In the second picture the functional line running from the left hand to the right foot is fully contracted after the kick.
The wood chop is a great movement for any sport where the functional lines generate power. For example, to train the front functional line you start holding a cable handle with both hands up and out to the right then contract powerfully, bringing your hands down to the opposite knee. You can do the movement in reverse to train the back functional line. Of course, for symmetry, you should train the same movement with your hands up and out to the left, moving to the right knee, and also in reverse.
You can also do a similar move with a single hand, to more closely mimic the actual sport. In fact, there is a huge variety of moves you can do with the cable stack to train the functional lines in a way that is specific to your sport.
Next time you’re in the gym, give the wood chop or its variations a try, it’s a great movement even if you don’t play tennis. We often incorporate a move for the front or back functional lines in our Stronger and Leaner classes. You can do it with a lot of power and it makes you pant, so it’s great for a high intensity circuit.