by Keila Chaliotis, Staff Writer
Most of us choose to go to the gym, enroll in some type of fitness class, and exercise at home or outdoors with the goal of getting in shape and in some cases to feel healthy. I also support those goals. To these lets add the ability to deal with real life situations. Confused? Let me explain. While training we workout isolated muscles, which get strong but don’t learn to work together, therefore might even be hard for you to lift up a baby from his crib or pick up a big box of Christmas’ decorations. Therefore programs are incorporating into their routine functional exercises which is exercising the body with activities that are performed daily.
Functional training comes from rehabilitation. It has been used to help patients go back to their daily activities after an injury or surgery. For example having the patient do exercises that mimic activities they did at home or at work. In some cases this training targets lifting and strength and in other cases endurance. It all depends on the need.
On the other hand when it comes to body building, functional training involves weight lifting targeted at core muscles of the abdomen and lower back. For this training to be effective in reaching your goals make sure you include in your program the following:
- Make sure your exercises are based on everyday life activities
- Choose a program that suits you. Consider your health status before starting with your routine. If possible visit a physician before starting any type of exercise program.
- Combine exercises that help you improve your flexibility, core body, balance, strength, endurance and power.
- Be continuous and progressive with your routine. If you keep constant you will keep improving and start seeing the advances in your workout. The ability of performing daily tasks should improve.
- Schedule your workout exercises. Program what are you going to train on, what day and also vary tasks. You don’t want to get bored or over workout only one part of your body. Distribute your workout exercises, according to your needs and development.
- Repeat frequently, don’t just do one exercise of each. Once you do an exercise make sure you do enough repetitions so your muscles really feel the workout.
- Try to use real life objects.
- Use feedback either from your therapist or trainer. It is important you get enough information of your advances. This will help you either continue with the exercises or change method.
For those athletes functional training is also a great routine for you since it also helps better your joint mobility and stability as well as improving your movements and performance in a sport. In 2009 Spennewyn conducted research and published in the Journal of Strengh and Conditioning Research which compared functional training to fixed variable training techniques, proving that functional users had a 58% greater increase in strength over the fixed form group. It also proved that the improvements in balance were 196% higher over fixed users.
In this type of exercise routine since its focus is to increase strength, it becomes critical to train in the specific movements as well as to train the muscles involved in the movement. For example squats, will help you improve more your ability to rise from the couch than a knee extension.
Functional training shouldn’t be your only exercise routine. It should complement your traditional training. It should help you add more strength to your body while improving your performance in your daily activities. The best way to add functional exercises to your routine is to think about those activities that you do during your day. Which are challenging? In case of a secretary or an office clerk for example, if you have soared legs after lifting up files, you should target this area. Once you have chosen your targeted muscles start exercising. You can use balls and even resistance bands to implement in your workout routine. Just make sure you are safe and avoid injuries! Like I have mentioned before, ask a physician and trainer if these exercises are good and safe for you. Remember we all have different body conditions, and what might be good for you might not be good for me. Be safe and get a checkup before embarking into a new workout!