Functional Fitness – The Fundamentals
Functional fitness or functional exercise is again making the list of what is trending in fitness this year. Functional Fitness focuses on training muscles to work together and helps to get them ready for daily tasks by imitating movements you do at home, work or in sports. The muscles are used simultaneously in the upper and lower body at the same time, while putting an emphasis on core stability. It gets away from using muscle isolation machines that stabilize the body for you.
The Fundamental Idea of Functional Fitness
Machines, for the most part, take away a lot of the involvement of your joint stabilizers and core musculature. Instead, functional fitness has you standing while supporting your weight when you lift. The fundamental idea of functional fitness is teaching your muscles to work together as a unit instead of having them work independently of each other. When done correctly functional exercise will include several muscles and joints in the same movement to improve strength, agility, endurance, balance, coordination, and posture.
When starting a functional fitness program, it is always a good idea to start with body weight exercises and work on form first. Start with single-leg movements, like the one-legged squat, stork with an overhead press or a single-leg deadlift. Once you feel stable, and can achieve these with correct form, then add in another level of balance. Personal Trainers will often add in other elements such as a wobble board, Bosu or stability balls. These items force your body to work your core while focusing on balance.
When you are Confident, Add in Weights
When you are confident with your ability to stay balanced using body weight exercises alone, both on the ground and when using personal training tools, add in weights. One of my personal favorite exercises is a single-leg dead lift with a kettlebell. You start with the kettle in your hand, lean over into the single-leg dead lift and place the kettle on the ground. Stand up without the kettle, then tip back over and pick-up the kettle; continue to pick-up and place the kettlebell down for 8-12 repetitions. Another favourite of personal trainers is an exercise known as the Clean and Press. This exercise entails squatting down with dumbbells, then bringing them up to the shoulder and pressing them overhead.
Functional training, when taught by a qualified personal trainer, will improve your capability to do your everyday activities, reduce the risk of injury and improve your quality of life. It is important to remember if you are older than 40 and haven’t exercised for an extended period or have health issues, to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Need a Personal Trainer?
Working with one of Infofit’s elite certified trainers will help you achieve your personal fitness goals in a responsible, safe and effective manner. We start by pairing you up with one of our industry leaders who will assess your current fitness level and develop a custom workout routine that delivers a highly effective and efficient process of building muscle, burning fat while improving your cardio-vascular health.
Cathie Glennon, BCRPA-SFL, Pharm.Tech (level 3)