Fitness for Any Body
Functional training was originally used in rehabilitation programs to treat “patients and non-patients seeking a safe, effective alternative training regimen.” It fuses low-impact, full range-of-motion exercises—which involve multiple muscle groups—to improve repetitive motion, balance, stability, coordination, range of motion, posture, and increase flexibility and coordination. With a benefit list this impressive, it’s no wonder these techniques are now used by everyday athletes.
Functional training is easy on joints and utilizes muscle groups in ways that are practical to the real world. Whether it’s a push, pull, rotation, squat, or carry, this form of exercise focuses to refine day-to-day motions. With functional training, you’ll notice improvement in everything from sports such as tennis or golf, to daily motions like jumping up from the couch to chase the kids.
You might even find yourself running circles around your gym rat friends: typical exercise machines isolate muscles in ways that won’t necessarily transfer to real-world performance. Functional training looks to do the opposite, utilizing your muscles in a practical way. For instance, if you are looking to improve your tennis game, functional training motions would mimic the same movements of the sport. A tennis player may work to improve their serve with repeated, low-impact swings during their routine. Happiness will be your best benefit—but dominating your weekend tennis match is a close second.
Give Your Body a Breather
The early 2010s gave us CrossFit and dozens of other popular HIIT (high-intensity interval training) fads. These workouts are designed to be, well, highly intense, fast, and invigorating. For a professional athlete, interval training can be a way to optimize limited workout time. Even for an all-star athlete, however, these extreme exercises can be hard on joints. And rapid motion will lead to an increased risk of injury.
High-intensity exercises aren’t only rough on the body, they can take a toll on the mind as well. The goal to get fit as quickly as possible may seem appealing at the start, but the best fitness routines are the ones you can stick with. Burnout is very real. Instead of looking to fast-track your #fitgoals, it may be best to incorporate a mix of regular exercises and functional training.
If you begin to burn out, focus on the upside to exercise, such as stronger bones and boosts to mental health. Your workout works wonders for a healthy heart, too, which has also been shown to keep your brain young. When it comes to an active lifestyle, it’s all upside.