How we changed the way we exercise?
Functional exercises – What are they?
The way we exercise goes through cycles and fads. However, one of the biggest influencers that still has an effect on how many people work out today was the rise of bodybuilding in the 1970s and 80s.
With the likes of Arnie and Sylvester Stallone on the scene, it was a time that ‘big was beautiful.’ And the way to get really big muscles was to focus on one muscle at a time. This involved isolating one muscle or muscle group at a time, and hence they became known as isolation exercises.
What are functional exercises?
Functional exercises, on the other hand, mimic the movements that we use for everyday tasks. Imagine picking up something reasonably heavy from the floor like a bin bag, or trying to get a small suitcase into an overhead locker on a plane. For these activities you need to use your whole body, which includes your core (back and abs), arms, hips, and your legs.
Many of the workout routines that you might see at the gym these days neglect these functional strength-building activities. And these functional exercises such as press ups, squats, deadlifts, running on treadmills such as the ones on and the overhead press often seem to be the preserve of the alpha males in the gym.
It is possible that you have been put off because you often see these types of exercises done with very heavy weights, and assume that is some sort of power building activity. But it is equally valid to do these exercises using just your body weight. And if there is a helpful instructor at hand, they should be able to show simple ways to modify the exercises to make them more manageable in the early stages.
How do functional exercises benefit you?
A positive benefit of performing functional exercises is that they can help with balance and coordination. To perform the exercises correctly you need to become more body aware, and this can further improve your stability and flexibility.
Functional exercises are considered to be a more sensible base for sports specific conditioning. They help to improve the relationship between the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. Performed well they will help you to develop the quick, reactive, and powerful movement patterns. This is what you need for sport.
But even if you are not sporty, these exercises have great advantages. They are certainly a great antidote to a sedentary office based day. If you have been seated all day, it makes sense to perform exercises that involve whole body movements rather than spending more time seated at an exercise machine.
Doing these types of movements helps to protect you from injury. They use muscles that are used to stabilise joints. But perhaps best of all, functional exercises tend to produce a stronger and leaner look to your muscles. So why not start incorporating them into your routine? You’ll find you get your routine finished faster too!
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