What are we training for?
Functional strength training doesn’t sound too exciting. But it might just be a vital step in looking after your health over the long term. Of course, for many people, there is an element of vanity involved in strength training. After all, there is nothing wrong with looking trim and toned.
But there has been a growing recognition that exercise should be very specifically targeted to our actual needs. And that is where functional strength training comes in.
Functional strength training – what does it involve?
The goal is to closely mimic the demands of activities that you might typically carry out in everyday life. A bodybuilder might single out a single muscle group like the biceps to build up. But the aim here is to use lots of different muscles in any one movement.
To help prevent injury, and to keep you supple, well-balanced and vibrant well into old age, mixing in a functional variety of strength training is ideal.
There is a whole spectrum of different functional exercises that you can integrate into your normal workouts. Some of the more advanced exercises involving kettlebells or stability balls can look quite intimidating and might turn some people away. But in truth, there are some basic exercises to ease yourself into functional training.
In fact, simple movements like body squats and side lunges can be done without any weights at all. Or if necessary and appropriate, light dumbbells can be used. As you gain confidence, you can start to incorporate greater movement into the exercises. And there are great exercises that can challenge you in different ways simultaneously.
For example, something called the dumbbell reverse lunge with twist will challenge your balance, core stability and mobility within a single exercise. It’s difficult to describe in this short article, but a quick look on YouTube will give you an idea. But as with all new exercises, try and get some professional feedback on your form when performing a new exercise if you can.
And there’s more …
There are some other great exercises with intriguing names such as the break dancer push up or double lunge and reach. But behind the odd sounding names, there is a real purpose.
As well as making you stronger and more agile, they can really help to challenge stabilising muscles in the hips, abdominals and shoulders.
Traditional gym machines do much of the stabilisation work for you. As such, some very important muscles involved in posture and good balance can become underutilized.
It’s a form of exercise that is growing in popularity, and it is a great way to counteract the wasting of muscles that happens as we age. And above all, it can add much needed variety to otherwise repetitive gym routines.
We hope this information is useful for you. If you have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill Broadway and Islington. If you like this blog, please share! We are always happy to help.