A few posts ago we talked about how in our East Grand Rapids studio, we were doing lots of functional training with a client. We did treadmill hill climbs with his backpack on in order to get him ready for a hiking trip. Well, he is now on that hiking trip, and in his absence I thought I would offer a few ideas on how the rest of us can incorporate more functional training into our everyday workout routine.
When you isolate body parts, as you sometimes do with traditional strength training, you end up training your muscles but not your movements. One way to change that is to look for ways to make your strength exercises more functional:
- Incorporate free weights: Machines have a place in strength training, but they offer so much support that the body doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain balance and good form. In real life, we don’t have that kind of support. Using dumbbells, bands or cables forces your body to create it’s own support, which leads to a stronger body overall.
- Use a stability ball: Doing some exercises on a ball, such as chest presses or pushups involves more stabilizers, the muscles that work to protect joints and maintain alignment.
- Combine movements: We usually do a combination of motions throughout the day. We lunge forward to open a door and then rotate while stepping through. Combining strength exercises together, like lunging forward with a reach or squatting with an overhead press can mimic this dynamic way of moving.
- Try unilateral exercises: Doing one-legged squats or using one arm at a time for moves like flies or chest presses forces your core to engage as well as your stabilizers, making these moves more functional and challenging.
Just a few ideas on how you can make your training more effective and funtional for everyday life.