Benefits of Functional Exercise – By Defined Fitness

Kettlebell Workout

So you’re ready to begin an exercise routine. But where do you start? This can be very confusing for many people due to the abundance of choices and conflicting information. In truth, anything is better than nothing, but with that being said, not all exercise is created equal. Most people who are thinking about starting an exercise program are looking to improve the way they look and feel. If this is you, your best choice is functional exercise. Functional exercise focuses on exercises that load the muscles while working them through a full range of motion and movements and uses an interval approach to increase heart rate. While many popular fitness routines incorporate some of these, very few actually incorporate them all and utilize them to their fullest extent. To improve the way you look and feel, your fitness program needs to meet the following three requirements.

1.Load the muscles. This is where most exercise programs fall short. Even those that use weights don’t use weights heavy enough to produce significant results. No pink dumbbell workouts! One of the biggest benefits of functional exercise is that it allows you to progressively lift heavier weight as you get stronger. While something like yoga or Zumba may be good for flexibility and cardiovascular fitness, respectively, neither allows you to load the body. If you think about it, if you lose weight doing either of these, your body actually gets weaker because you no longer have to move around or hold as much weight.

2. Work the muscles through a variety of movements. Chest and back Monday, arms Wednesday, and legs Friday is an outdated approach to fitness that was the result of the bodybuilding era of yesterday. Today, we no longer want to focus on isolating muscles. Instead, we want to do exercises that work the large muscle groups with exercises that require us to push, pull, squat, bend, balance and rotate all in a controlled manner and with weight. These types of exercises help to improve daily activities like carrying groceries up the steps, yard work and playing with the kids–not to mention activities such as golf and tennis will benefit too.

3. Increase heart rate using intervals. Research has shown time and time again that the use of intervals reap better results than continuous aerobic exercise, in fact one study has shown that 20 minutes of interval training four to five times per week for 15 weeks got nine times better results than 60 minutes of aerobic training done four to five times per week for 20 weeks. The most popular form of interval training is HIIT (high-intensity interval training) where you exercise for a set amount of time and then rest for a set amount of time, circuiting through a group of exercises for a set number of rounds. The truth is interval training is anything where you work hard for a period of time and then rest for a period. Strength training done in a functional fitness program works the same way. You perform a group of two to three exercises back to back, take a break and repeat. That’s an interval.

Whether you’re ready to take your fitness program to the next level or thinking about starting an exercise program for the first time, give functional exercise a try. Defined Fitness will be hosting a Functional Exercise workshop on Saturday June 22, 2013, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. with sessions starting on the hour. The workshop is free to attend and open to the public. If interested, call Defined Fitness at 724-934-2000 for more information and to reserve your spot.