When you think of exercise, we all imagine something different, because we are all different! You may imagine strenuous activities such as sprinting or weights — the ones that make you breathe hard, turn flush and drip with sweat. Or maybe you think of jogging …
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You killed your workout yesterday at the gym hitting your personal record of bench press and pulling more then your own weight in a seated row. Today, you went to help a buddy move his 70 pound couch only to throw your back out with excruciating pain. What happened? In all likelihood you’re not training your body for function fitness and everyday life. You may be fit, toned, tight and ready to hit the beach, but are you ready to lift all your bags of groceries up the stairs to your third floor apartment?
Functional Fitness is among one of the latest buzzwords heard in gym and fitness facilities worldwide these days and rightfully so. Changing the focus from having “the biggest biceps” to training for real life scenarios is the latest craze. But what exactly is functional fitness, why should one utilize functional training, and how can one incorporate it into a workout?
Functional Fitness 411
Functional Fitness means the goal of working out is to prepare your body for everyday activities such as walking, bending, lifting and climbing stairs safety and efficiently. Functional fitness training goes beyond a goal of being able to bench press 250 pounds, but rather, trains your body for everyday life instead of specific events. This approach combines movements as varied from yoga, Pilates, and physical therapy and builds upon them to create a full body workout that causes different muscle groups to work together. Convectional weight training isolates specific muscle groups to help strengthen them, but fails to teach muscles to work together with others as they would in everyday tasks. Using various muscles in the upper and lower body simultaneously, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.
Why Functional Fitness?
As discussed earlier, functional training helps make everyday activities easier, reducing your risk of injury and improving your overall quality of life. Functional exercises tend to be multijoint and multimucsle exercises. Instead of only using the biceps, a functional movement might utilize the biceps along with the quadriceps, hamstrings and core. These types of movements work more muscles in a shorter amount of time allowing you to get in and out of the gym faster. Functional training programs allow you to get the same amount of work throughout your body in half the time of a convectional hour-long weight training session. In addition, functional exercises can help to improve balance, agility, and muscle strength.
Functional Fitness Exercises
Multifaceted physical movements found in activities such as kickboxing and Pilates involve varying combinations of resistance and flexibility training that can help build functional fitness. Many people, including myself, get overwhelmed when they think of functional fitness movements. 10-foot rope climbs or 200-pound box pushes pop into their head. The good news is, functional training doesn’t have to be scary or intense, you just simply need to incorporate more then one-muscle group. An easy way to think of function fitness is ways to mimic everyday movements such as picking up large bags of groceries, climbing stairs or taking a child out of a car seat. You can mimic these actions through basic exercise movements such as squats or steps ups and then add resistance or rotation to incorporate more muscle groups. Some examples of specific functional fitness moves that use multiple joints and muscles include:
-Squat to shoulder press
-Step-ups with weights
-Plank with dumbbell Row
Click here for more awesome functional fitness moves from ACE certified professionals.
As you add more functional fitness exercise into your workout, you should quickly see improvements in your ability to perform everyday activities. All of the improvements will show quite the return in your exercise investment!
~Fall in love with taking care of yourself. Mind. Body. Spirit.~