A good program of Functional Training exercises will be a series of whole body exercises which somewhat mimics the activities you normally do on a daily basis or in your choice of sport. By doing these exercises in a controlled environment and on a consistent basis, your body will become stronger and be better able to handle the stress caused by these activities.
For example, doing squats (body weight or with added resistance) is a great functional exercise as it trains your leg/gluteus/chore muscles to make standing up from a chair or picking something from the floor a much easier task.
All the functional training exercises I prescribe to my clients are multi-jointed and are performed in a standing position. These types or exercises will force your brain – nervous system(central governor system) to coordinate the efforts of the different muscle groups needed to accomplish the task in the most effective manner. It does not always mean the exercises will be easy at first, but since the large majority of functional training exercises (squats, step ups, torso twists…) are comprised of basic movements, your learning curve will often be fairly rapid and the exercises will become easier.
Doing the exercises in the standing position will also help strengthen the muscle groups responsible for better stability of your body; your “Chore Muscles”. Your chore muscles consist of: transverse abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominis, diaphragm, hip abductors/ adductors/rotators, hip flexors and the scapula stabilizers.
All movement patterns go through the chore muscles. Whenever the body moves, to lift something or simply to move from one position to another, the core muscles are tensed first. The tension in your chore muscles is usually made unconsciously and in conjunction with a change in breathing pattern.
But as the body ages, many of these chores muscles are not being used regularly and many of them will begin to atrophy and lose strength. Regular and consistent use of well performed Functional Exercises will help keep these muscles in good working form!
As a Personal Fitness Trainer, some of the goals I have for each one of my clients are:
- To get them fit and ready for their “everyday chores – work load”,
- To improve their muscular balance and coordination
- To reduce their risk of injury (falling – over use injuries…)
- Improve their overall quality of life.
And, as you read above, that is exactly what training using Functional Training Exercises will do! Therefore I recommend everyone 40 years of age and over to begin a regular workout program which includes many Functional Training Exercises!
TRAIN SMARTER – NOT HARDER!