Functional fitness training is training which is targeted to allow the individual to function easily without effort in his or her day to day life. Most average people are not in training to run the marathon, or complete in a decathlon. They want to live a healthy and happy lifestyle, accomplishing everyday tasks with a minimum of effort. But even athletes training for a specific sport may find themselves with strains, sprains, or the occasional pain when attempting to extricate a rather large toddler from an inconveniently positioned child safety seat. They may be toned, tight, and competition ready, but, ironically, ill prepared for the exertions of everyday life. Functional fitness training is targeted at training your muscles to make it easier and, indeed, safer to perform these commonplace tasks without accompanying stress, whether it be lifting heavy packages, carrying groceries to the car, or playing a game of basketball with the kids.
The key to functional fitness training is integration. Functional fitness exercises train to muscles to work together in the combinations used in your everyday activities by simulating these activities in a program of regular exercise. Using various muscles in the upper and lower body in combination, these functional exercises help to emphasize your core stability. For example, the muscles used in rising from a chair, or picking object up from the floor, are the same as those used in traditional squats. Training muscles in tandem may help to prevent damage, and pain, for to both yourself, as well as the aforementioned toddler. This, by definition, make squats a functional exercise.
Functional exercises may be performed at home, following a regimen, or in the gym. You may find that a gym may offer the added advantage of group classes, boot camps, and individualized training, as well as other motivating factors. Additionally, exercise tools, such as fitness balls, kettle bells and weights, and other items may be more readily available at your gym or fitness center.
Functional exercises, as a whole, tend to be multi-muscle, multi-joint operations. Instead of exercising a single joint or muscle, these exercises tend to target groupings of muscles, as they are used in common, everyday activities. Instead of moving a single joint, such as the knee, functional exercises will involve a multiple of joints in a more naturalistic pattern of movement. This may involve the spine, the shoulders, hips, ankles, and arms in a complex dance more closely related to natural activity.
Dr. Ron Spallone works on Barry Bonds at Coors Field
The multifaceted movements found in exercises such as tai chi and Pilates requires different combinations of flexibility and resistance training which can help to build functional fitness. And there are many other examples of such integrated exercises, such as step-ups, with the addition of weights, and standing bicep curls. Multi-directional lunges can prepare your body for common activities, such as climbing stairs and running a vacuum.
As in virtually all forms of exercise, if you are over the age of forty, haven’t exercised for some time, or have health considerations, it is a good idea to check with your doctor before embarking on a program of functional fitness training. Pregnant woman should also seek professional advice. It is also a good idea to use your own body weight for resistance as you begin your program of functional fitness training, as you progress, and feel the need for additional challenges, you may add weights or resistance tubing to your program. You may also wish to consider exercising in the water.
As you add more and more of your chosen functional exercises to regular workouts, you will most definitely see improvements in your ability to function in your everyday life without debilitating fatigue or distress. The ease with which you find yourself able to complete normal tasks, be they occupational or recreational, will add to your enjoyment of life. You still may not be prepared to run that marathon, of course, or perform on the parallel bars, but the extra game of pick-up basketball, or those tosses of the football in the backyard, should offer their own rewards.
At our unique facility in Littleton we have one of the premier functional training facilities in the country. We offer individual and sports performance training, CrossFit, speed training, personal training, group training in a professional environment. We have doctors of chiropractic, a doctor of physical therapy, strength and conditioning experts and even 2 PhD's on our staff who contribute to the exercise programming. Click here to learn more about our Functional Fitness Gym in Littleton