Weight training that supports your daily activities and prevents injury is something we all should all take a closer look at.
fdjWhile different methods of weight training all still continue to help you gain muscle, every individual's needs are different. So, your training should follow suit. Functional training typically is done standing, works your stability muscles, and is often multi-plane and multi-joint. Think about how you go from standing to crouching down to tie your shoe. Simple enough for the average person, but taking that into the gym, it would look something like an axe handle. Here, your upper body, core, and legs all work together in one fluid motion.The point is, functional training is getting your body better at doing the simplest of everyday moves to the most complicated of activity-specific movements.
Where did Functional Training come from?
Believe it or not, functional training stems from a background of physical therapy and rehabilitation. It aims to keep people moving strongly, safely, and efficiently. It focuses on your stability muscles. Stability muscles in this form of training center around your transversus abdominis and internal obliques (your deep abdominals), outer and inner thighs, and your scapula. These help you keep your strength, balance, and mobility in throughout your joints.
Functional training came from the idea to create a form of training that helps prevent injury through exercises that highlight range of motion, strength, and balancing out any unsymmetrical muscle groups. It also wants you to be stronger in the types of movement you do everyday. It does this by eliminating the idea we need to isolate muscles in our training. Instead we start working muscle groups in conjunction with one another.
Benefits of Functional Training
Sometimes whether it be after surgery, a time when you were immobile, if you have an injury, have a muscular imbalance, or just lead a sedentary life, your muscles start to atrophy. Functional training works to revive the flexibility throughout the joints, gain strength, and create a better symmetry between sides of the body.
In addition to reinvigorating muscles that no longer work as strongly, functional training helps you do your daily activities better. So, if part of your job requires a lot of bending and straightening your knees by heavy lifting, your training will help support that. If you sit at a computer all day, your training will keep your hips mobile, and your core and back muscles strong. Activity-specific training is essential for living a long, healthy life. Here, your alignment, joint protection, and increased range of motion are the priorities.
Types of Functional Training Exercises
Three types of functional exercises that you might experience are:
Great for anyone with tight hips or who sits for long periods of time, this lunge opens up the hips and stretches out your inner thighs.
Start with your feet together. Step out to the right about three feet with both sets of toes continuing to face forward. As your right foot lands, bend the right knee and sink your right hip towards the ground. Do this while keeping your left leg straight. Push off the right foot and come up to stand. Alternate sides.
It’s important to keep your spine mobile and your core strong. Did you know that spine flexibility helps relieve shoulder and hip tightness?
Separate your feet about three feet apart with your toes turned out. Hold a medicine ball or a free weight with both hands in front of your left shoulder. Twist the weight through the front and down at a diagonal towards your right hip and bend your knees. Rotate your torso back through the same plane of motion to start over.
Have tight hamstrings? Need to work core and back? Try a few plank walkouts.
Start with your feet hip width apart. Bend the knees softly and bring your hands to the floor. Walk the hands out until your body is in a plank. Keeping your legs straight, walk your hands back towards your feet and stand up.
Much like how athletes train for their specific sport, you need to train for your best life. Think about all of the active elements of your day; walking up stairs, picking up and carrying a baby, cleaning house, climbing up a ladder to clean the leaves out of your gutter, sitting on a plane, or even just having an active sex life. Keeping your body balanced, keeps your body and life running harmoniously.