Achieve Your Fitness Goal With Functional Training Exercises
What’s the Deal with Functional Training?
Whether you’ve heard it referred to as functional training or functional fitness you might not be familiar with exactly what it is. Maybe you’re new to the idea of working out, or maybe your workouts up to this point have been based primarily around steady-state cardio (think elliptical or treadmill) or weight-lifting. If that’s the case, and you’re looking for a way to break up your monotonous workout or give your gym time more bang for its buck, look no further than functional training.
Functional training is a fitness regimen that focuses around whole-body exercises that are designed to mimic everyday movements. These are movements that you do to carry out every day activities.
For instance, you may lift up you child from the floor to your chest, you may stoop down to get the clothes in an out of the drier or you may stop suddenly as your dog or cat runs across your movement path. These movements are functional and this is the focus of the work outs.
Purpose Driven Workouts
It’s intended to make you more active and able to keep up with the rigors of an active lifestyle, but even if you aren’t out there playing football or doing construction work, it can still help you build the body you want and make you able to play with your kids or go for a strenuous hike. It’s a workout with a purpose, and that purpose can be as simple as to make you able to to lead a more active life.
There’s a reason that functional training buffs are generally fit-looking people. Functional training often utilizes a concept called higintensity interval training (HIIT). This training concept involves periods of high-intensity exercise that sharply elevates your heart rate, followed by short periods of active rest that decrease the heart rate.
This has been shown to burn fat faster, lead to better cardiovascular health, and have longer-lasting daily effects on your metabolism than steady state cardio alone, and it has the added benefit of having these effects in a vastly shorter amount of time. While functional training may not be designed primarily around HIIT, the exercises involved often have some crossover. Take the kettle-bell swing, for instance. This exercise strengthens your lower body and core, but do it for a minute and see how elevated your heart rate gets. Deadlifts, power cleans, or sled-drags have the same effect.
However, functional training isn’t only about elevating your heart rate. It generally involves strength-based exercises that engage multiple joints, instead of single-joint isolation exercises like bicep curls. Isolation exercises are good (and indeed, necessary) if you’re trying to build strength in specific muscle groups or you’re preparing for some sort of competition, but multi-joint exercises are much better for increasing your overall strength and burning more calories. Functional training also often involves lower-body and core-specific exercises, since these muscle groups are involved in almost everything you do. These exercises might include mountain climbers, lateral squats, lunges, or goblet squats.
How To Get Started
Now that you have a basic idea of what functional training can do for you, how do you go about incorporating it into your daily workout routine? If you’re someone who generally goes to the gym, rides a bike for an hour, and then leaves, incorporating functional fitness may seem daunting at first. However, it’s important to remember that everyone started somewhere, even the folks at the gym who are doing complex movements with high weights.
At first, you want to start slow, because it’s critical that you get the exercise movements down before you start to add weight. Although a body-weight squat may not be challenging, you can always increase the rep count and adding weight can lead to injuries if done improperly. Don’t let this discourage you; if you’re just starting out, building good habits is much more important than putting up a lot of weight. It’s important that you enjoy your workout and that you can keep it up over months or years.
If you’re just starting out, try adding a day of functional training to your existing work out, or if you’re just starting to work out, add a couple of days per week. These days should be spread out to give your body to recover, and they can be the same workout or a different set of exercises per day. You can look anywhere online to find sample workouts to try. You can also incorporate a day or two of cardio (whether it’s HIIT specific or steady-state) to improve your cardiovascular health, as well as a day or two of strength specific training to help build muscle and torch fat. Varying your workout also keeps it from getting boring; a sure-fire way to stop looking forward to the gym.
Make It Fun
If you’re looking for a fun way to workout that doesn’t take too long and can help you have a more active lifestyle, look no further than functional training. It can help you burn fat, build strength and achieve your fitness goals, all while being fun and varied on a daily basis. Try incorporating functional training into your exercise plan and watch the results!