Functional fitness workouts are the key to long-term fitness, weight loss, and wellness. These carefully designed sessions won’t leave you sweaty or out of breath, but they can help you burn more calories and keep you active throughout the day.
So how do you take advantage of functional training? First, it’s important to understand what this type of training is like and the benefits it provides .
What is a functional fitness training?
In a literal sense, the term “functional” means “to perform a function”. In the context of exercise, it refers to performing a series of functional movement patterns to strengthen and engage muscles and the central nervous system .
During a functional fitness workout, you use your own body weight , dumbbells, or other resistance equipment to strengthen your muscles . But this type of training is different from a traditional weight lifting program.
For many athletes, functional training is an exercise for the muscles and the mind . Improve the way the brain communicates with your muscles so that the body works better. During each functional training exercise, you should focus on movement to maintain balance and good posture .
There are different ways to incorporate functional training into your regular exercise routine. You can add some posture and balance exercises into your weekly strength training sessions, or you can work with a personal trainer to create a more comprehensive program to improve the way your body looks and feels.
Functional Training Goals
Since the goal of functional training is to strengthen the core and improve the interaction between different muscle groups, each functional exercise has one or more of the following characteristics:
- Always engage several muscle groups at the same time.
- They usually involve the use of unstable elements (small accessories or unstable body positions).
- Combine the movements of the upper and lower body.
- Engage your full range of motion.
Range of motion is a measure of the amount of movement around a specific point on the body, be it a joint or a limb. In general, you should try to use your full range of motion each time you exercise and adjust as needed to accommodate your abilities or limits.
Let’s take a specific example to show what we mean: squats. Do you avoid going too low because you want to do more reps? Or is it because your heels lift off the ground as your body gets closer to the ground? If it’s the latter, reaching that bottom point, with your heels off the ground, could destabilize your knees and actually decrease mobility or muscle development in the long run.
Functional training means performing the full range of motion . If that means you need to do fewer reps to achieve full range of motion, then do fewer. Or if you’d rather do the same number of reps but don’t want your heels to lift, place something (like a book or weight plate) under your heels to stabilize your knees. Even if it’s a bit uncomfortable at first, you’ll get used to it in no time.
How can functional training help you lose weight?
Rather than exposing your body to the stresses and strains of weight lifting and cardio, functional training is designed to make your body more comfortable . Research has shown that bodies that can move more freely burn calories more effectively and aid in weight loss. But functional training can also make your other workouts more effective. This benefit is key for people who are trying to lose weight.
Before beginning any exercise program, it’s important to identify areas of weakness or limitations in range of motion that could affect your performance, i.e. any flexibility or balance issues.
If you’re not sure how to best assess your body’s movement, getting a personal trainer can be a great starting point. The trainer will be able to detect your weaknesses and help you improve through functional exercise which, in turn, will help you lose weight.
Functional training can have a massive impact when trying to lose weight. When your body is working properly, it becomes more efficient at burning calories; And when you burn more calories during exercise and through activities of daily living, you lose weight faster.
4 simple functional training exercises
Adding functional training to your sessions doesn’t have to be difficult. You can incorporate them into your current exercise routine or just do a couple in the morning before starting your day at home. This will also help you start the day with more energy.
Probably the most famous of all functional exercises. The plank is an intermediate level exercise that aims to strengthen the core by improving balance and posture.
The fundamentals to improve balance. All you need to do is stand up as steady as you can on one leg. And do it for as long as you can, of course. As your core gets stronger, add arm movements to increase the difficulty level of the exercise.
One legged squat
Similar to the one above, the single leg squat has you stand on one leg and lean down, then step back again. At first, it may be a complex exercise, but practice makes perfect. Over time, he will have a greater sense of balance and see noticeable weight loss around his waist.
When you’re lying on the floor, raising your arms from your sides up over your head will help you control your back and abdominal muscles. This will improve muscle growth and weight loss. Isolate your lats and restrict movement in your shoulders, minimizing the risk of injury.