Functional Training: Why we should be doing it.

Most of you have probably heard of the term “functional training.” Maybe it was in a magazine, at the gym, or even from your trainer. But what does this term really mean, and first and foremost, why should we be adding functional training to our workouts?

The best way I can define functional training, or functional exercises, is that they are movements that are done by us as humans in everyday life. By doing these exercises and training the body to do these movements, we will get stronger in any and all activities we would normally do on a day-to-day basis. Functional training involves full-body movements and incorporates multiple muscle groups, just like the things we do in our everyday life. Because more muscle groups are involved in each exercise, we need to have more neuromuscular control in order to perform that exercise. In other words, that specific exercise will be harder for you to perform and will require more concentration, balance, and energy.

This type of training is also considered multiplanar (which means moving through different planes of motion), and not isolated, which is working through a single plane of motion to isolate a certain muscle group. A good example of this would be to picture yourself performing a lunge with a dumbbell shoulder press, as opposed to just sitting on a machine and performing a leg raise, or leg extension. Obviously, you can figure out from the example which exercise will be more challenging.

Lastly, I would like to touch on the fact that functional training is a great way for you to maintain or even increase balance. As we get older, we want to be able to have good balance, as well as strength, not only to lead a more productive life, but also to prevent falls and injuries that may occur. Functional training should be something we all should be incorporating into our workouts, whether we are an athlete, avid exerciser, or just somebody that wants to live a healthier life.

Comments are welcome or if you like, please feel free to e-mail me at TonyBieri@EliteClubs.com.

Tony Bieri
Fitness Director
Elite Sports Club-Brookfield

Are you working hard enough at the gym?

Do you go to the gym, jump on a piece of cardio equipment for 10 to 20 minutes, then do 10 reps with a weight that you could probably lift 20 times, and call it a day? If this sounds a little like your average workout, then you are not working hard enough.

Four symptoms that you should feel every time you workout:

  1. Increased Oxygen Demand-You should feel out of breath.
  2. Lactic Acid Buildup-You should feel slight pain and burning in your muscles, but not in your joints!
  3. Body Temperature Rise-You should be sweating.
  4. Increased Heart Rate-Your pulse should be faster than usual (most gyms have charts that help you estimate your optimal heart rate).

You may not feel all of these in every workout, but if you do not feel any of them, there is a good chance that you are not working hard enough. Now get out to the gym and up your intensity so that you actually get something out of your workout!

Here is an exercise that should make you feel all four symptoms:

Dumbbell Clean & Press
Grab a dumbbell between your legs in a squat position and then stand up explosively, pulling the dumb bell up to your shoulder. In that same motion flip it over and press it above you.*

Thanks, and enjoy your next workout!

Seth Eckl
Personal Trainer
Elite Sports Club-West Brookfield

*If you don’t know how to perform this exercise or have questions about it, please ask your trainer.