If you recently joined a gym or fitness club, you may have heard the term functional movement mentioned by your trainer. Fitness training encompasses a spectrum of exercises, but all these exercises incorporate one or more functional movements. Here are the different movements and their benefits:
Defining a Functional Movement
Functional movements are exercises that mimic real-life actions to engage the muscles we use to perform everyday tasks like walking, bending, and carrying items. Some exercises that mimic typical movement patterns include the following:
- Push movements
- Pull movements
- Body Rotations
Unlike traditional exercise routines that target specific muscles or body parts, functional movements simultaneously stimulate multiple major muscle groups. This holistic approach better reflects the demands of daily activities on the body.
Functional training programs incorporate exercises in multiple planes of motion. You can have an exercise that involves jumping forward and backward, then rotating. Because of the amount of movement in functional exercises, they often require free weights rather than machines. Some exercises also incorporate tools like medicine balls and resistance bands to improve your body’s functional strength.
Benefits of Functional Exercises
Including movements in your exercise routine offers numerous physical benefits. Here are a few of these benefits:
Enhanced Functional Efficiency
Functional exercises train your body to work as one unit. You train different muscle groups to work together, which prevents muscle strain and injuries. As you continue your movement routine, your mind adapts to recruiting different muscle groups to perform tasks instead of relying on one muscle.
You may find that when lifting heavy objects, you do not just bend and use your legs but also engage your core strength. By using such techniques, you may do tasks in a way that is more comfortable for your body.
Better Joint Stability and Flexibility
Incorporating movements that target multiple joints and muscle groups may help improve their range of motion resulting in enhanced flexibility. The compound movements in functional exercises are also suitable for core strengthening, which may help your body’s stability.
Improved Balance and Coordination
Functional movement requires a level of balance and coordination that your body acquires after consistent training. The more you do your functional training, the better your muscles coordinate to perform the exercises in your routine.
You can gain spatial awareness and better body control, which helps you to remain sturdy when moving. The improved coordination from functional exercises may also help you minimize accidental injuries.
Incorporating Functional Movements
If you are considering movement as part of your exercise routine, consider your daily activities and the functional movements they involve. If your job requires you to be on your feet for long periods, you can try squats to build strength in your lower body.
Focus on multi-joint movements to train your major muscle groups during your exercise routine. Lunges and push-ups are examples of multi-joint exercises you can include in your routine. Your muscles are highly adaptive and quickly get used to a movement if you repeat it frequently. Gradually increase your movements’ intensity and complexity so that your body continues to benefit from the functional exercises.
What makes an exercise functional differs from one person to another. The best functional exercises for you also depend on your fitness goals. It helps to consult a fitness expert when beginning your functional exercise journey for help creating a suitable exercise plan. A trainer can also help you gauge your progress and adjust your exercise routine accordingly.
If you are too busy to commit to an exercise routine, you can enjoy the benefits of functional exercises by making them part of your lifestyle. Take walks when going to the store rather than driving. Stand and walk around when taking phone calls. Train yourself to bend your knees and engage your core when lifting heavy items off the floor. Yoga incorporates a lot of functional movements, so consider enrolling in a class if you do not like running or lifting weights at the gym.
Train Your Body To Be Stronger and More Functional
You can enjoy a more functional, efficient body by integrating functional movement into your fitness routine or taking a yoga class. Consult a fitness professional for tips on how to train your body for improved movement today.