We all require strength and flexibility to perform our daily activities. How many times have we heard of someone hurting their knee while climbing the stairs or injuring their back while carrying heavy groceries?! This is exactly where functional strength training comes in!
Functional strength training includes exercises that attempt to mimic real-life activities. Training our muscles to perform day-to-day actions, it keeps us fit, agile, and less prone to injury.
It involves doing free weights, aerobics, and light gymnastics. The foundation of functional training is based on six movement patterns which are the squat, lunge, push, pull, and core. Let’s take a look into the basics of functional strength training and how we can benefit.
Designed to Improve Everyday Functions
Our daily movements include walking, running, jumping, lifting, pulling, pushing, bending, turning, twisting, climbing, and lunging. We go about these activities in a smooth, coordinated order. But a single wrong twist of a muscle or a sudden jerk could lead to injury.
Thus, functional strength training works to strengthen various muscles used in daily movements.
In functional strength training, we simulate the actual activity that we need to improve. For example, if you require to lift heavy articles, you should focus on improving the muscles for this type of action. Whereas if your job requires you to be fast-paced, then aerobic exercises can be useful. If you like cycling, then you might as well strengthen your leg muscles.
Training Entire Muscle Groups
In any activity we perform, we use a combination of many muscle groups. Thus, functional strength training is designed to work entire muscle groups rather than a few isolated muscles.
This effectively trains our muscles to work together. Exercises like squats, dead-lifts, lunges, or push-ups are recommended in functional strength training rather than an isolated bicep curl.
This training helps you perform well in daily activities. For example, to lift a heavy suitcase from the floor, simply bending and lifting it could strain your lower back. An appropriate way would be to squat and dead-lift the suitcase from the floor, using your glutes and legs, keeping your back flat and chest out. With functional training, you are equipped to do it without any stress or injury.
Using the Body as One Unit
Functional strength routines train us to use the body as one unit. This can have many benefits like improving our coordination, balance, and body awareness.
A functional strength training and research program conducted over 12-weeks with girls aged 12-13 years as participants showed an increased level of muscle strength, flexibility, power, and improvements in movement quality upon completion of the training.
Functional strength training also enhances the relationship and coordination between the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscular systems. It strengthens the entire body, helping it to efficiently function as one unit.
Suited for All Age Groups
It is a common misconception that one may be too old for functional strength training. Rather, it is highly beneficial for all age groups, especially the aged. The training will vary based on age and requirements.
For example, an aged person might have trouble getting out of a chair and might need to strengthen the specific muscle groups required for that activity. Many studies have proven that functional strength training significantly improves the strength and day-to-day functional ability of the elderly.
Being physically fit should always be our top priority. By adding functional strength training to our work-out routines, we can reap many fitness benefits regularly. It can help reduce the risk of injury, make us strong, agile, and well equipped to carry out our daily activities.