This week we are talking all about functional fitness – what is it and should we be doing it? Is it just another fad or actually something fundamental which you should be trying to incorporate into your weekly fitness regimen? Definitely the latter!
Functional training can be a little confusing as you would assume that all training has some functional benefit which is true but we are specifically talking about movements which mimic key movements we do in everyday life – think about it as training for life. For example sitting – we sit down and stand up off a chair, off the bed, off the loo many, many times in a day but all too often we don’t actually train that movement. We have slightly fallen into the trap of training like an athlete – for performance, rather than training functionally for the movement patterns we do in everyday life.
Functional exercise can help prevent injury, trips, falls and generally enhance day to day living, especially as we get older. More often than not people get injured doing day to day activities e.g. lifting something heavy in the wrong way like dragging the lawnmower out of the garage or getting out of the bath rather than in the gym doing their workout. So whilst you might be strong at lifting a weight in a certain movement pattern or be a great runner it might not actually help you to take the bins out each week! That’s not to say there isn’t a place for running and other types of training but it’s important to get the functional work in too.
So let’s take a look at some of the best functional exercises for everyday life. The very best are compound movements, those exercises which use more than one muscle group at once, engage the core and really mimic movements in our lives. If you think about it, we don’t just squat down to unload the washing machine, we squat down, lift the basket, twist with it at waist height then pop it on the side. So a machine at the gym which isolates the hamstring or quad muscles can’t replicate that movement at all. Compound movements as part of a resistance training regimen not only build muscle strength and enhance bone density (find out more about that here) but also work on stability, balance and mobility which really helps to injury-proof ourselves, especially as we age.
The best part about functional training is that we really can do it anywhere – it primarily uses body weight and if you wish dumbbells or resistance bands rather than machines. A couple of great examples would be the squat with a press, press up and bicep curl shoulder press. Take a look here to see some great functional exercises you can try at home today.
If you’re looking for a way to get started with functional and strength training my platform, Caroline’s Circuits, is just 30 minutes 3 times per week. They are interval training circuits which work different muscle groups and challenge the body, keeping the heart rate moderate to high with passive or active rest – they give the perfect mix of strength and cardio for the best results.
The workouts are Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9am (they are all recorded and available to you within an hour of the session if you can’t make the live).
Mondays and Fridays are workouts focusing on all the muscle groups. A strength-based class where you have the option of using weights or exercising without equipment.
Wednesdays are focussed on the lower body – legs and tummy toning. Using resistance bands if you have them but equally all the classes can be done without equipment.
Classes have been specifically designed to suit all fitness levels and create fitness habits which last & which produce results.
If you have any questions please do get in touch.
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