Workout Wednesday: Functional Training

 The above images are from a bosu site...not necessarily recommendations from Lacey Lee. 

You may or may not have heard the term “functional training”.  This is a big buzz word in the fitness community – and I am going to tell you why.

By definition - Function training is a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life.

Whether we are talking nutrition or fitness – I always like to look at the big picture.  In my opinion many people have it all wrong when it comes to working out.  The focus should not be about how much you can bench press or how long you can run - rather the focus should be on building a body that is capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions.  Don’t get me wrong - running and/or using strength machines are still good for you but it's also good to condition your body so you can excel in life. 

Here’s a scenario.
Yesterday, you had a great workout at the gym. On each of the strength machines, you lifted more weight than ever before and ran at a faster pace on the treadmill.   

Today, you lift a 20+ pound suitcase to carry it downstairs -- and throw your back out.  

What likely happened is this:  You go to the gym 3 times a week, go through a circuit of strength machines and either head to the elliptical or treadmill.  While all that is great, you are not focusing on your functional fitness.  You have strengthened certain muscles by using machines but you have not taught your muscles to work together.  By laying or sitting against a pad/bench – you do not activate your core or any stabilizing muscles.  You might be toned and ready for the beach, but are you ready to lift your toddler out of his/her car seat, carry a suitcase or any other “real” life motions we make daily?   

Working out has evolved beyond just cardiovascular and strength.  While these are certainly important components to fitness, workouts are now being done with Bosus, kettlebells, stability balls, etc.  These apparatus’s not only help with our strength and cardiovascular fitness but our balance, flexibility, agility, speed – all while shaping our bodies to its optimal state. 

At the end of the day – people want results – and when incorporating functional tools – you get results.

Let me share the beauty of my favorite workout tools.
#1.  BOSU
The BOSU (both sides up) consists of two sides – an inflated, blue dome and a flat, platform.  You can perform strength and cardiovascular exercises with the Bosu.  By standing or kneeling on the BOSU, your body learns how to compensate for times when optimal body positioning is lost. Traditional strength exercises can be performed when standing or kneeling on the BOSU such squats, push-ups, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, bent over row, shoulder presses, etc.  These then become total body exercises because of the instability of the BOSU.

Jogging on the BOSU, for example, activates the entire leg from the ankle through the calf, thighs and pelvic floor. The muscles of the core are activated in order for you to maintain balance. The soft domed side of the BOSU provides just enough instability to make squats up and over the dome, toe taps and football-style tire runs more challenging.  Flipping the BOSU and using it for numerous exercises will activate more muscle groups than when done on a flat, stable surface. 

#2.  Kettlebell
The Kettlebell is a cannonball with a suitcase handle welded to the top.  It focuses on muscle integration rather than isolation.  Nearly every drill recruits multiple muscle groups to work in unison.  The body is trained as a whole and particular emphasis is focused on the core and back muscles. 

#3.  Stability Ball
 The Stability Ball is a heavy-duty, inflatable ball.  Most people think only ab exercises can be performed on them but in fact you can perform upper and lower body exercises also.  Maintaining proper alignment on the ball stimulates the body's natural motor reflexes and encourages the body to react as a whole, integrated unit.

#4.  Your own body weight
 Our body provides us with one of the best “machines” – and the best part is – it’s free.  By doing body weight exercises you are allowing your body to move in its preferred path of motion.  You will learn how to move your body in a controlled and efficient manner and provide you with the skills you will need once you graduate to more advanced forms of working out.    

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