What do you picture when you think of the term “workout?” Is it lifting heavy weights? Attending a judgmental gym? Perhaps a boring, repetitive routine? If any of that sounds familiar, it may be time for you to change the way you work.
Over the past several years, many fitness experts have begun to move to a functional training methodology, meaning training the body in the same manner it is used during everyday activities. Have you ever carried your kid upstairs with groceries hanging on the other arm, trying to get the key in the door? Sitting on machines at the gym doesn’t really prepare your body for that. “The body is one unit that consists of individual muscles working together to create movement. Muscles don’t work in isolation, so they shouldn’t be trained that way,” says local fitness trainer and Owner of Breakthrough Fitness, Dominic Lucibello. When training, you should use movements that involve multiple muscle groups, as in the exercises pictured. These movements emphasize your torso “core” and transfer over to how you perform on a daily basis.
For an exercise to be truly functional, it should be done standing, with free weight, using multiple muscle groups and at a variety of speeds. “Always master a movement before adding speed,” says Lucibello. “So, say goodbye to the machines that do the work for you.”
“Only 16 percent of the population belongs to a gym and most of the functional training equipment can be used anywhere – something that caught a lot of people’s attention,” Lucibello says. Training equipment includes bands, medicine balls, kettlebells and the ultimate free weight, your body. Great for exercising in a small space, functional training techniques are perfect for home or backyard fitness routines.
Today, one of the most popular training methods is circuit training, combining strength training with endurance training. Exercises are done for a prescribed amount of time or repetitions, followed by a short rest period and then followed by the next exercise. If you’re looking to lose weight, creating a circuit routine may be your answer. “Circuit training is great because it promotes muscle growth, increases metabolism and burns calories, all of which are essential for fat loss,” says Lucibello. “Kettlebells are a great tool to use during circuits because you can get a muscle building response as well as a great cardio workout all in one.”
Besides the obvious fat loss benefits, circuits are useful. “Being fit is more than just lifting weights or running endless miles. A good routine should address flexibility, power, balance, strength and endurance.” says Lucibello. One way to make exercises challenging without adding weights is by controlling the tempo of the exercise and rest periods between exercises. “Workouts need to be intense, not long. Movements should be simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy,” he says. By adjusting rest time and tempo you’ll be able to continually challenge yourself without straining your muscles.
If you’re just starting a circuit routine, consider working twice a week and then progressing into three or four times per week, depending on your level of fitness. “The most effective routine is a routine that is designed specifically for the individual,” says Lucibello. “For customized results you need a customized plan.”
When shifting to a functional workout or circuit routine, experts advise you start off with your bodyweight. Until you can move your bodyweight efficiently, there is no need to add weight. “Proper execution and good form are the foundation of a sound exercise program,” says Lucibello. Not only will this help avoid injuries, but it will also give you better results.
The first question you should ask yourself is why you are changing your workout. “If you like your plan and it’s working, stick with it. “You have to set goals, know how much time you can commit and then figure out the best way to reach those goals.” says Lucibello.
Article by Corey Gehrold