By: Jason Iadisernia
When meeting a client for the first time, my initial question is always “What is your goal?” The response is usually the same: “I want to lose weight” or “I want to tone up.” It seems that people are generally more concerned with altering their body image than anything else. Although this is an important goal, should it really be your number one goal? As a trainer, my intentions are to help clients achieve their best physical potential and improve their overall quality of life. This means that “toning up” may not be what’s best for every client. Sure, this could boost your confidence and make you look great but will you necessarily be the best person you can be physically?
Helping my clients reach their physical potential means I focus on improving their functional fitness above all else. So what is functional fitness? In short, it is training that will improve your ability to perform everyday activities. A bicep curl may make your arm look great and give you a nice pump but it isolates only one muscle group and it is an unnatural movement that does not prepare your body for real world activities. So if you can’t put these newly gained muscles to work, then what were you really training for? This means the functionality of your training is limited. The goal should be to use your muscles, not just look at them.
A functional fitness routine emphasizes multi-joint movements and exercises in multiple planes of motion. Training your body in such a way conditions you to perform everyday movements more efficiently. Because of this, professional athletes, the military, police and firefighters are all trained with high intensity routines that focus on functional fitness.
Here are several reasons why emphasizing functionality in your training is important:
Performing multi-joint movements means you are targeting more muscle groups at once. If you recruit more muscle groups simultaneously, your body will naturally be able to do more work as far as weight load, making you feel stronger.
Can you ever recall having a “freak accident” where you sustained an injury like throwing your back out while lifting something off the ground? What if I told you that there was nothing accidental about it? The reality is that your body is not properly conditioned to perform those everyday tasks resulting in a serious injury. Functional fitness is built around the concept of training to perform these tasks.
We are now living longer than ever before. It's important that with these added years we ensure our overall quality of life because as we age we tend to lose some functionality. According to The Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, there is a positive correlation between functional fitness and good health in older adults. Some areas of improvement included balance, agility, aerobic endurance, muscle strength and even mental health!
Functional exercise programs provide you with concepts of constant variation. This is basically interval training using a variety of equipment such as barbells, sandbags, or stones (anything you can pick up!) This keeps the body guessing while avoiding adaptation. On top of this, constant variations keep you mentally stimulated because every workout will be different and unique!
Change is on the Way
Your body will thank you in the end in more ways than one. Not only will you feel stronger but you will also look great! Taking part in functional exercise programs at high intensities will cause the muscle to grow in different areas which will burn more calories. This is an efficient way to look and feel better than ever before!