BoxLife Fitness Training #181
BoxLife Fitness Training #181: Functional Training
Functional training is a type of exercise which targets specific muscle groups or body parts and helps improve strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. These are all necessary for any active person to perform their job effectively. However, it’s not just about building muscles; it’s also about improving the overall health of your body through proper nutrition and regular physical activity.
The benefits of functional training include:
Improved cardiovascular endurance – Improves your ability to maintain blood flow throughout your body. This improves oxygen delivery to vital organs such as the brain and heart. Increased range of motion – Increases range of movement for joints, ligaments and tendons.
Improved joint stability – Strengthens bones, ligaments and other connective tissues in joints. Better breathing technique – Helps increase lung capacity, helping with deep breathing techniques during activities like running or cycling.
How does functional training work?
It’s pretty simple really. You do a series of exercises designed to target different areas of your body. Each exercise is based around one or two key muscle groups and involves performing them slowly and steadily at varying intensities until they’re completed. For example, if you want to strengthen your legs, you might start out by doing leg extensions. To do this, you sit down on a seat at a leg extension machine and extend your legs out until your knees are fully extended. You then slowly contract your muscles to bring your feet back in until they’re pointed straight ahead. The key here is to slow down the movement as you reach full extension and full contraction.
You can also use free weights such as dumbbells to perform similar exercises. You might start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Holding the weights in your hands, you extend your arms overhead until they’re straight.
You then slowly lower the weights out in front of you until your arms are straight again before repeating the process.
What are the benefits of functional training?
Besides the obvious benefits mentioned above, functional training can also help you:
Improve posture – As you perform each exercise slowly and steadily, you’re forced to concentrate on maintaining correct posture with good spinal alignment. This is especially important for people who spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer or driving.
Tone muscles – Because the exercises are designed to target different muscles, they can help tone your muscles and give you a more pleasing shape. This is especially true for women who don’t want to look like body-builders.
Increase strength and flexibility – As you repeat each exercise multiple times, you’ll find your muscles getting stronger and more flexible as they adapt to the exercises.
Who can benefit from using functional training?
Because functional training is based around movements that the body is designed to perform, it’s a great activity for just about everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re a couch potato or an elite athlete, it’ll help you out in some way.
People who will especially benefit from using functional training include:
Athletes – Athletes are already somewhat accustomed to performing functional exercises as part of their training. If you’re an athlete, functional training will mesh well with your other activities.
Seniors – Functional training can help active seniors maintain the strength and flexibility needed to enjoy their favorite pastimes. It also helps them avoid or delay the onset of osteoporosis and other age-related health conditions.
People with back pain or other debilitating injuries – Functional exercises can help strengthen the muscles around injured or painful joints and bones and increase flexibility in those areas. This is especially true if you work with a physical therapist who can tailor a program to your specific needs.
People with joint pain or other health conditions – As long as there is no severe bone or joint damage, functional training can help reduce or even eliminate pain caused by arthritis and other conditions. The exercises can also increase strength and flexibility allowing you to do the things you enjoy despite your condition.
Are there any drawbacks?
As with most things in life, there are drawbacks to functional training. The main ones include:
They take time – The best things in life usually take a little effort and functional training is no exception. While you can see results fairly quickly, you should plan on devoting at least 30 minutes 3 times a week to your sessions.
They’re not easy – Just because you can see results quickly doesn’t mean that the exercises themselves are easy. You’re working against multiple layers of resistance to develop complete strength and flexibility. It can be intense for inexperienced beginners.
They’re not for everybody – Just because you can do the exercises doesn’t mean that you should. If you have any severe injuries or medical conditions you should consult a physician before attempting any type of functional training.
That being said, if you’re ready to take your fitness to the next level, functional training can help you get there faster than anything else. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry too much about the names of exercises and focus more on the concepts and techniques. You can always learn the names of moves later.
As with anything, use common sense and take things slow when you’re just starting out. There’s no rush and you don’t want to get hurt. If you feel any pain while you’re doing an exercise, stop and ask yourself if you’re doing something wrong.
Always remember the F.I.T.T.
principles (never mind that they don’t teach you what F.I.T.T. stands for in school) and you’ll stay safe while getting in the best shape of your life!
By the way, did you notice the cute girl or guy on the opposite side of the gym?
Don’t worry, you’ll have time to talk to them after your workout!
They’re not for everybody, but if you want to take your fitness to the next level then get ready to start fitting function into your life!
What’s your favorite functional exercise?
Tell us about it below!
Brief Definitions of Some Common Functional Exercises
Here are some functional exercise descriptions for you to peruse while you’re working on perfecting your own technique. Since every skill is different, these are just general descriptions and may or may not exactly match what you’re doing in your routine. This way you can see if any of these exercises might be a good addition to what you’re already doing.
Squats – Contrary to popular belief, this is not just “going to the bathroom” although that is a perfect example of a squat. Technically speaking, a squat is bending your legs until your backside touches your heels. For functional purposes however, a squat is moving from that position to standing straight again.
This can include everything from picking something off the ground to jumping and landing.
Lunges – This is similar to the squat except that one leg is extended so that your foot is flat on the ground. The other leg performs a squat as described above.
Step-Ups – These are a little different than lunges in that you don’t actually move your legs through space. Instead, you place your foot on a platform and then go from a squat position on one side to a squat position on the other.
Calf Raises – This is just what it sounds like. You place your toes on a small platform and then lift your heels as high as you can. You can do this with both legs or just one at a time.
Squat Jumps – This is a combination of a squat and a jump. It is typically used to increase your explosive power by practicing your timing so that you’re able to squat down and then jump up as fast as possible.
Lunge Jumps – Similar to the squat jump, except that you alternate legs when performing the lunges. One leg goes forward into a lunge position while the other is behind you in a standing position. Then you switch so that the other leg goes forward and the other back.
This will cause you to jump in the air during the movement.
Push-Ups – You probably don’t need much of an explanation for this one. It is a classic exercise for building strength in your chest, shoulders and triceps.
Pull-Ups – Another good strength builder, the pull-up primarily targets your lats, traps, and arms although virtually your entire upper body is involved to some extent. It’s also a great exercise for your core since it requires you to actively engage your abs in order to maintain proper form.
Sit-Ups – This is one of those fundamentals that everyone should do. By bending your torso and legs at the same time, you work your abdominal muscles as well as your hip flexors. This is a great way to get in some extra abs (as long as you don’t do them excessively hard or recklessly) even if you’re already doing a formal ab workout.
Jumping Rope – If you really want to increase your explosive power, there’s nothing quite like jumping rope to build up your leg strength and coordination. You can do it for fun or you can do it to get in some additional cardio. Either way, it’s a versatile exercise.
Plyometrics – These are drills that increase your ability to exert force into the ground. This means that exercises like jumping rope and burpees are plyometric because they help you exert force into the ground and then bring yourself back up quickly.
–These are exercises that use your own body weight to increase strength and aerobic endurance. This can include push-ups, pull-ups, dips, crunches and many other similar variations. You don’t need any equipment at all for these, so they’re good for anyone to do anytime.
The more you advance, the more you can vary your routine and do things like single leg exercises or one arm pull-ups. This is a great way to engage in regular exercise if you’re short on time or don’t feel like dealing with the outdoors.
You visit the personal trainer three times a week and have to do a few exercises. You’re not really looking forward to it but you know it’s for your own good. The first day, you suffer from muscle pain all over your body, particularly your legs which seem to ache the worst.
The ache doesn’t really go away, it just becomes a constant dull pain. It’s fairly manageable and you can ignore it but it still sucks.
The second day is actually worse as the pain begins to spread to different parts of your body, seemingly at random. You begin to feel feverish and generally run down.
Sticking with it around day three is a real challenge. You feel like you’re about to fall over and hit the floor. This doesn’t actually happen, but you do collapse.
After you wake up from the resulting slumber you’re in a pitch black room with the exception of a lamp in the corner. You notice that your vision is severely limited and begin to panic when you feel restraints on your body. Your arms and legs have been tied down to the table you’re on.
You manage to calm down slightly after noticing that there’s a speaker in the room somewhere letting out a static sound.
A figure slowly creeps into your line of sight from the shadows. It’s a short, blurry figure but after blinking a few times you realize that it’s the personal trainer.
“I see you’re awake,” he says in a normal tone, despite the static.
What the hell is going on here?
,” you shout, “Let me out of these things!”
He doesn’t seem fazed by your pleas and begins to slide something with wheels on it towards you. It’s a tray of food.
“You need to eat to get your strength back. Otherwise, you won’t get out of those restraints.”
He comes in and out of your vision, always staying just outside of your limited field of view. After a bit of fumbling with the tray, you manage to grab the spoon and begin shoveling the food into your mouth. It’s surprisingly tasty, if a bit cold.
It’s definitely a more satisfying meal than you’ve had in years.
After you’re finished eating, he comes back into view and refills your drink from a pitcher on the tray.
“I’m going to give you the Cliff Notes of what’s happening. I’m going to write a few key things down on this note and slide it under the door for you. When you read it, then you can eat again.
That’s it. No more questions. No more chats. Just the note.
You grumble in anger, but know there’s not a whole lot you can do. You hear the door slide shut and the lights turn off, leaving you in the dark. You fall asleep soon after from exhaustion.
You wake up to a tray of food. Not wishing to deal with this anymore, you quickly scarf it down so you can read the note. It simply says:
“Due to a security breech, you have been moved to a new location. This meal was from a local restaurant and should not be underdone, as I know how you like your meat. Please refer to the notes I left for you last night after you read this one.
You notice five pages have been stuffed under the door. You read through all of them and they seem to be a rather blunt explanation of what’s to happen in the future. You’re told time and time again that if you try anything, you or your loved ones will be killed.
You’re to be a donor for an unknown period of time. Every two weeks you will be sedated and several parts of your body will be removed for the ghoulish customers of this place. If you resist, you will be killed.
If you try to escape, you will be killed. If the secret gets out, you will be killed.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet (J Itzler – 2015 – books.google.com)
- Life-extension in a research reactor: calculation of the neutron-induced ageing of the core-box, grid-plate and beryllium reflector (SP Tolo – 2019 – repository.nwu.ac.za)
- Neural capital and life span evolution among primates and humans (HS Kaplan, T Mueller, S Gangestad, JB Lancaster – Brain and longevity, 2003 – Springer)
- The evolution of diet, brain and life history among primates and humans (H Kaplan, S Gangestad, M Gurven… – Guts and brains: An …, 2007 – library.oapen.org)
- SHOP BY FLAVOR (S Brust, D Corner – tryabouttime.com)
- A new organization of time over working life–Results from a European Foundation research project of the same name (G Naegele, C Barkholdt, B de Vroom… – Soziale …, 2010 – Springer)
- Analysis of the pull-up requirement in the US Marine Corps physical fitness test for female Marines (SL Ryan – 2014 – apps.dtic.mil)
- Wetwares: Experiments in postvital living (R Doyle – 2003 – books.google.com)