In terms of fitness trends, diets and health movements, the industry is always changing. It’s hard to know and to follow what is best for your body, or which exercises will produce the best results. Many people who work out at the gym will do their cardio, and then swap to free weights or weight machines to train and tone their bodies, but it looks like research has found a better way – Functional Training.
This buzz word, “functional training”, talks about an activity that differs from traditional weight training and workouts. Functional training integrates and teaches all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently. It will essentially focus on training your body to be capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, such as carrying a heavy load or lifting your child out of her car seat – not just lifting weights at a gym machine.
What are some examples of Functional Training?
As mentioned before, a functional training exercise is an action that corresponds with an everyday movement. Here are some examples of great functional training movements:
In this exercise, you place your fingers on the back of your head and pull your elbows back so that they’re in line with your body.
You then bend your knees and prepare to jump, and explosively leap as high as you can. Land in a squat, and then repeat 10 times. This is beneficial as it mimics the real life movements of squatting and bending down to pick things up.
Kettlebell dead lifts (with straight legs)
Grab a pair of kettlebells (or dumbbells if you don’t have access to kettlebells) and hold them at your sides at arm’s length, with your knees slightly bent.
Bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Pause, and rise back up to your beginning position. This is an effective training exercise as it corresponds with the everyday motions of lifting heavy objects off the floor, such as a box or your child.
Medicine Ball Slam
This is a simple move in which you take a medicine ball and hold it high above your head, and subsequently slam or bounce it onto the floor. Catch it and repeat. This one is good for the variations of reaching and placing items overhead in cupboards or closets.
This activity can be done with a pulley-style fitness machine or a dumbbell. Grab a dumbbell and hold it with both hands above your right shoulder, and while your midsection is rotated, you swing the dumbbell down and to the outside of your left knee, like you’re chopping wood.
You then reverse the movement to return to the start. Don’t forget to alternate left and right sides. This action is effective at simulating any kind of reaching and rotating activities in everyday life.
Stair Climb with bicep curl
Similar to the squat jump exercise, this activity is effective for any kind of climbing activity. It will keep your legs nice and toned.
You should stand at the bottom of a flight of stairs, a dumbbell in hand, and climb the stairs while performing bicep curls. You can walk or run up and down the stairs, and increase weight over time for toned arms.
How will Functional Training Benefit me?
Functional training will benefit you in everyday life by training your muscles to work in harmony. It will also assist with balance, metabolism, and everyday function, as well as help to prevent any potential injuries from everyday movements.
Remember that our bodies are designed to move, and not to be sedentary. Since functional training focuses on various movement patterns rather than isolating specific muscle groups, you will find a plethora of positive benefits. It will help you to correct bad posture and muscle imbalances caused by the stressors of daily life.
It will burn fat and develop a toned and lean body type, similar to that of a gymnast (if you think about it, a gymnast’s body is constantly moving).
Since just about every functional training exercise includes flexibility, mobility, core stability, balance and strength training, you will see wonderful and quick results that benefit you in everyday life. It is also very effective for any sport-specific conditioning and strengthening the core.
Overall, the benefits of functional training are plentiful, and the positive outcomes that you will see are amazing. In terms of results, it will help keep your body toned and svelte, as well as assist you in every day movements. It appears that functional training is here to stay!