Nowadays, more people are hitting the gym to get fit or even just to satisfy the need to be responsible for their wellbeing. They probably had a great workout yesterday and today – bench pressing more and pulling more weight on a seated rolling machine. But do these exercises reflect the activities we that we actually carry out in our daily lives?
Just picture a scenario when you had to load a 30kg luggage into the backseat of a taxi. Maybe it’s just a routine of throwing your bag in and swing. What happens then? Not sure if any of you have experienced a tightness in the back, or perhaps hear some ‘cracks’ in your spine. In all respect, whilst you may look toned and always ever ready to hit the gym, but are you functionally prepared to jump across a puddle of water or lift the spring-water bottle onto the dispenser?
It is not uncommon that people do not pay attention to functional fitness, how they are executing movements in their daily lives. We put ourselves in danger of possible injuries due to imbalance of muscles. What is functional training, you may ask. To put it simply, functional training refers to exercises that focus on core stability while training your muscles and joints simultaneously to improve coordination, balance, posture, strength and muscular endurance so that you are prepared for the real world everyday activities.
Starting a functional training regime may startle some of us who are used to working on solely machines as it is a lot harder. “You can’t do functional exercise with the same levels of intensity and short rest periods as machine exercise. And unlike traditional weightlifting on machines, with functional exercises, if you ‘train to failure’ (until muscle fatigue), you train to fail. Instead, your set ends when you can no longer perform the exercise with perfect form” says exercise kinesiologist Paul Chek, MSS, founer of the Corrective High-performance Exercise Kinesiology Institute in California. “Functional exercise is much more neurological demanding than machine exercises,” says Chek.
That being said, let us take a look at a few functional exercises.
(i) Deadlift with weight (Mimics lifting a load up from ground)
(ii) Push Up with Resistance Band (Mimics pushing movements, such as pushing a door, pushing a broken down car)
(iii) Side Lunge (Mimics picking yourself up when an impact from the side)
(iv) Single Leg Rows (Mimics pulling motion that requires you to stabilize your body)