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Is Functional Fitness Training Right for You?

is functional fitness training right for you-.pngYou’ve probably heard a lot of talk about functional fitness in your gym, by your trainer, or even around the water fountain. But functional fitness is more than just a fancy gimmick name or the newest exercise fad. Functional fitness is a method of training that uses exercises that work the muscles that help you do everyday activities safely and more efficiently to maintain or improve your quality of life. If you are still asking yourself, “Is functional fitness for me?”, here is some more information to help you decide.

What is functional fitness?

Functional fitness emulates common movements you would use throughout the day at home or work or in sports. It trains your muscles to prepare them for daily tasks such as carrying groceries or playing with your kids, making it easier and safer to perform those daily tasks. One of the most common exercises to use as an example of functional fitness is the squat. The squat movement, whether done with body weight, a barbell, or dumbbells, trains the same muscles you would use when you rise or sit from a chair or pick up low objects. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of common situations.

What are the benefits of functional fitness?

One of the many benefits of functional fitness training is that because we are simulating everyday movements of the body, it can be done virtually anywhere, including the comfort of your own home. However, many gyms and fitness centers now offer functional fitness classes or incorporate the movements used in functional fitness in other classes, because of the benefits these exercises can provide for every individual.

Another benefit of functional fitness is a lowered risk of injury. Functional fitness exercises often involve multiple joints and numerous muscles, so they can improve balance, agility, and muscle strength and reduce the risk of falls in older adults.

What are examples of functional fitness exercises?

The list of exercises that can be incorporated for a functional fitness workout is vast. Small tweaks to exercises you might already be doing can shift the balance into a functional component. Speaking of balance, that is one of the keys of a functional program. You can improve your balance by doing such things as standing on a BOSU disk while performing biceps curls or an overhead press, or using a stability ball rather than a traditional bench when you are doing a dumbbell bench press. Involving these types of equipment will force you to work your core (abdominals and middle and lower back) while you are performing the exercise, making it highly effective and challenging. Another example of a specific functional fitness movement that use multiple joints and muscles is multidirectional lunges. The change in direction from the traditional static front lunge will help prepare your body for common activities, such as vacuuming or yardwork.

So is functional fitness right for you?

If you’re new to exercise or haven't exercised for some time, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. However, if you are already actively working out and feel you want to try functional fitness, start with exercises that use only your own body weight for resistance at first. From there, you can add more resistance in the form of weights, resistance bands, or kettlebells as you get stronger. Getting involved in a class that incorporates functional movements is another way to get the feel for functional fitness and find out if it is right for you.

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