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Why functional fitness helps everyday life

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Have you ever had one of those killer workout sessions in the gym where you busted out multiple sets of bicep curls, leg presses, leg extensions etc? Do you then wonder why you sometimes find that you have trouble lifting a heavy suitcase above your head in an aeroplane, or going up several flights of stairs?

The cause of this can be that most people focus on isolating individual muscle groups such as biceps, triceps, quads or glutes. This is an effective type of training that is used mostly for bodybuilders and has great success however functional exercises are needed for everyday life. Our muscles don’t work in isolation, they work together as a whole.

If you want to be functionally fit, you have to strive for fitness outside of the gym as well. That’s where functional training comes in. Functional training exercises are performed to allow the participant to move through normal life activities, rather than just lifting a certain amount of weight on a weighted gym machine.

Functional exercises are almost always multi-joint exercises and require the use of multiple muscles at once therefore working your entire body, resulting in burning more calories. Who doesn’t want to burn more calories?

The best thing about functional training is you need minimal equipment. The training method emphasises basic movements such as walking, running, jumping, pushing, pulling, lifting and squatting. When you add a medicine ball, kettlebell or dip bar it can add an additional level of challenging fun.

Functional training is great for everyday life. It will allow you to comfortably do all the things you love, such as playing outside with your kids, running around with your dog, planting flowers in your garden or carrying groceries up a few flights of stairs. Functional exercises also focus on building a strong core and training your body to react the correct way when something unpredictable happens, such as a tumble off the curb or a slip on a wet surface.

Some examples of functional training exercises are:

• Squats

• Planks

• Burpees

• Lunges

• Sprints

• Kettlebell swings

• Shoulder presses

• Jump squats

Other examples of specific functional fitness movements that use multiple joints and muscles include:

• Multidirectional lunges

• Standing bicep curls

• Step-ups with weights

Multidirectional lunges prepare your body for common activities, such as vacuuming and yardwork. To do a lunge, you keep one leg in place and step out with the other leg — to the front, back or side — until your knee reaches a 90-degree angle and your rear knee is parallel to the floor.

Ask your trainer, or go online and find “functional training workouts”. Make sure that your doctor has cleared you for any new exercise programme and get started! You won’t be disappointed!

Stay functional and B-Active For Life!

Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than nine years of experience. Check her out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/B.ActiveForLife

Normal life activities: Functional training will help you climb several flights of stairs or carry groceries out of the store and into your home