Functional Training

6 Feb

Like everything else in life, physical training evolves with time.  In order to be a good personal trainer, you need to keep up with the times and be able to offer the latest forms of training to your clients to give them different and newer options.  It is important to always keep things fresh.  I’m all about keeping things new and introducing new techniques all the time.  Whether it’s training myself or my clients, it’s important to change things up to keep your body guessing all the time.

Functional training attempts to adapt or develop exercises which allow individuals to perform the activities of daily life more easily and without injuries.  It is an effective form of exercise that trains several muscle groups. While training several muscle groups, you execute movements performed in everyday life that can improve balance, core stabilization strength and flexibility.  You can perform several functional weight training exercises to see improvements in your performance.  I’m a huge fan of this type of training for many reasons.  The primary reason is the amount of muscles you are able to target in a short period of time.

In my professional opinion, I find the static pieces of equipment you see lined up at all those gyms completely useless.  What is the point of sitting at some sedentary machine repeating the same motion 10-15 times only to do it again for another 1-2 sets?  Those types of machines are muscle-specific which means that they are geared to work a specific muscle.  So for example, if you’re at the bicep curl machine, the primary muscle you are working are your biceps while everything else is just sitting there not being challenged.  Same thing is true for the leg extension machine.  You know the one where you’re sitting down with a padded bar over your shins and you straighten your legs?  Guess what muscle that one is for?  Yup, that’s right, your quadriceps.  No other muscle is really being fired up while you’re sitting there strengthening the tops of your thighs.  Or how about those inner/outer thigh machines?  You know the ones ladies…those machines you only use if there isn’t anyone directly in front of you because the thought of anyone watching you open and close your legs with those machines is enough to make me blush just thinking about it?  Well my point is they only target one muscle.  The adductor machine works your inner thighs and then you have to move on to the abductor machine in order to even things out and work your outer thighs.  Seriously?  I don’t know about you but I don’t have 2 hours to spend at the gym every day.  And even if I did…I want an intense workout that is continuously working more than just one muscle at a time.

Enter functional training –  an approach to training which mimics activities that are performed on a daily basis.  To be effective, a functional exercise program should include a number of different elements, which can be adapted to an individuals needs or goals:

  • Based on functional tasks directed toward everyday life activities.
  • Individualized – a training program should be tailored to each individual. Any program must be specific to the goals of an individual, focusing on meaningful tasks. It should also be customized for training load.
  • Integrated – It should include a variety of exercises that work on flexibility, core, balance, strength and power, focusing on multiple movement planes.
  • Progressive – Progressive training steadily increases the difficulty of the task.
  • Periodized – mainly by training with distributed practice and varying the tasks.
  • Repeated frequently.
  • Use of real life object manipulation.
  • Performed in context-specific environments.

Stay tuned as I will be posting more articles on specific functional exercises.  If you are interested in any one-on-one personal training incorporating functional methods, please contact me.

Until then,

Have a fit and fabulous day!!

Lisa

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