I was asked recently, what's my favorite type of workout & why.
Functional Training: classified as training that prepares the body for real-life movements & activities.
Essentially, it's a selection of exercises that simulate common movement patterns you might do at home, work or in sport; such as walking, squatting, reaching, pushing, pulling, twisting & lifting.
They focus on form & require you to actively stablise your core as you complete the move. This in turn strengthens the same, improves posture, protects the spine & lower back, & works against the problems created by a sedentary lifestyle.
Functional exercises also teach multiple muscle groups to work together in order to build a body capable of doing real-life activities in real life positions. For example, a squat mimics the movement of sitting down & standing up. A deadlift replicates lifting something off of the floor. You lunge to tie your shoes. You push a door open & pull it closed. When you're lifting objects above your head, you're essentially doing a shoulder press.
These tasks are otherwise known as activities of daily living (ADLs) which is a term used to collectively describe fundamental skills required to independently care for oneself, & is often used as an indicator of a person's functional status.
An inability to perform such tasks can result in the dependence of others &/or mechanical devices.
Components of Functional Fitness:
In evolutionary terms, our bodies were developed with the intention of having all of our muscles work together, & support each other to accomplish certain movements & tasks. In order for it to move freely & perform activities safely without worry of injury, the body needs to master a degree of strength, balance & coordination, power, range of motion, & mobility.
This can be achieved by swapping traditional cardio & strength training equipment for more functional movement training; incorporated body weight, free weights, suspension straps, kettlebells, medicine balls, battle ropes, tires & more.
Functional training teaches the body to flow through various movement patterns & positions, with & without load. There are absolutely no limits but remember, good movement requires practices!
Improving your functional fitness presents a number of benefits for your health, everyday life & your athletic performance. Furthermore, it's suitable for everyone irrespective of fitness level & ability.
Whatever your fitness goals, here are 5 reasons to incorporate functional exercises in your training schedule:
1. Improves overall body function:
Consisting a mix of strength & cardio, functional training not only improves physical fitness by promoting overall conditioning, but also boosts muscle strength & endurance, & develops muscle & stability.
Creating lean muscle also increases independence & makes completing everyday tasks easier, thus improving overall quality of life due to stress relief.
2. Creates greater muscle memory:
Not only does functional training help build muscle & core strength, but it also exercises the brain too - effectively boosting its memory potential.
Working the mind & muscles together, allows the body to recruit multiple muscle groups to get the job done effectively, & prevent strain injuries.
3. Increases mobility:
Improving balance, co-ordination, flexibility, muscle strength, & agility, enables the body to move freely & perform activities safely without worry of injury.
It also enables ease of movement & control in situations like getting up & down off the floor. Even reacting to sudden situations like stumbling or tripping while walking, good mobility & muscle co-ordination will make the difference from staying upright or falling over.
4. Improves posture & balance:
Unlike exercises purely for fat burning or muscle toning, functional exercises work supporting muscle groups as well as the main targeted muscle groups.
This trains the body to make muscles work together & manage weight distribution properly; improving overall strength & balance, reducing stress on the body, & improving posture. It also increases the range of motion throughout the body which requires coordination.
5. Reduces risk of injury:
Functional exercises mimic everyday activities, strengthening muscles used every day & helps reduce the risk of injury. As we age, our bone density & mobility decreases putting more burden on joints & tendons. Functional training can elevate this by building strong, well-functioning muscles that can protect areas highly susceptible to injury as we age.
Is functional training right for you?
Not only does it help with weight control, & combating health conditions & diseases, but regularly performing functional exercises can also help support your everyday life. Movements such as walking, jumping, lifting, pushing & pulling, twisting & turning, stopping & starting, climbing & lunging, will all be made easier by incorporating functional training into your routine.
It's suitable for people of all ages & fitness levels as each exercise can be scaled to suit individual needs. You don't require advanced levels of fitness or mastery, & you can do them anytime, anywhere. With or without equipment. And better yet, it doesn't have to be high impact. Lower-impact can be just as intense & strengthen muscles around joints safely.
By training your body the way it was designed to be used, you not only maximize your physical potential without sacrificing agility & mobility, but you also learn to utilize your entire body in order to perform activities of daily life more easily & without injury.
Where to start?
As with any new type of exercise, it's important to start at the beginning & learn the basics.
If in doubt, start with exercises that use your own body weight for resistance until you master the technique. Then, as you become more fit & skilled, adjust the style & difficulty level, & add more resistance.
How I can help:
The dynamic programs I prescribe are designed after careful consideration of my client's condition(s), & what they would like to achieve, ensuring their goals are realistic & achievable. They're then tailored accordingly in order to help them progress & achieve their goals.
Whether it be improving general fitness, strengthen individual weaknesses & imbalances, or optimizing performance inside &/or outside of the gym, the exercise selection will always be individualized to you, & suitable for your level & functional status.
And how do I establish your functional status? I offer pre-exercise health screenings & physical functional assessments to evaluate your fundamental movement patterns, & establish your based level of fitness.
Want to know more? Then get in touch here to schedule your consultation.