Everybody seems to have an opinion don’t they? Sometimes it seems that those that have the loudest opinion know the least about a subject. Am I right, mama?
The fitness industry is one of those industries that have a lot of loud mouths. And while I love my peers, and I do believe that most of them mean well, you HAVE to be careful who you listen to.
Because if they don’t know what they’re talking about, then… well, listening to their advice would do you no good.
What about the topic of functional exercise?
Lots of people have lots of opinions on functional exercises and a lot of times they are all different.
Some trainers think that functional exercises are not important while other coaches believe that functional movements incorporated into workout routines are vital.
A lot of women that I talk to confess that they honestly have no idea what to do when they go into the gym. They’ll go to the same machines over and over again and just change up the number of reps.
Let’s be perfectly clear.. Exercise repetition is important, but there has to be a mix up in the routine known as periodization for optimal hypertrophy.
For my face to face clients, they each get a customized program based on their needs, goals, strengths and weaknesses. For the first 3-4 weeks, we do a lot of the same exercises. There will be variations to the exercises, but a lot of them the same. Again, based on their goals.
Then the next 3-4 weeks, we do a different set of exercises with different reps and weights, and variations then the next 3-4 weeks, we do yet another different set of exercises but different form, weight, positioning, etc.
Those first weeks are more “simple” exercises, and by simple, I mean not complex.
That doesn’t make them any less effective or as difficult,
but it helps you become more aware of your body and how your body works and building those muscles that you use in everyday life.
Building on that, I incorporate the more functional and complex exercises into their routines which takes that body awareness to an entirely new level.
Think about this with me…
You are constantly picking up and putting down your kids. Am I right?
Do you know how many mamas I’ve talked to that have really sore backs? A lot.
In fact, I had a mama recently in my Yoga class (who happens to be a pre-school teacher) who was telling me how sore her back was all the time.
When I asked how she lifted her kids and her children in her class, and she showed me, there was a severe lack of form. Once we addressed her form, we then talked about how she can strengthen her back.
Functional exercises such as deadlifts, cleans, overhead presses, etc. are always incorporated into my clients because those movements mimic movements that we do in everyday life.
You’re seeing a trend here, yes?
What is a functional exercise?
Let’s not make things too difficult, right? Functional exercises are exercises that not only strengthen muscles that you use when doing functional movements, they are functional movements.
Just to mention a few [not all inclusive] examples:
- Overhead presses
- Stairclimbers (or toe taps on steps)
Here’s what I mean.
How often are you on the floor with your kiddos or sitting around on the floor in your gal’s living room with a glass of wine?
Ever tried to get up off of the floor without making all these weird noises and having to have someone help heave you up?
Have you ever noticed that you are out of breath once you get up off of the floor?
Literally adding moves such as up and down off of the floor into a circuit will really heat up the calorie burning level of your workout.
Can you say… burpees? Yeeaaahhhhh, functional, right? Or literally laying flat on your back on the floor, and getting up as quickly as you can, then laying back down flat.
Girl, you’ll be outta breath so fast you won’t know what hit’ya.
You’re welcome. ?
But let’s not stop there. Let’s take another move; how about the deadlift where you have to pick something up off of the floor.
How many times have you seen someone bend over to pick something up and they are super hunched over where their shoulders are rounded and they just look like their back is going to snap any second?
Next time you go to pick up your little, try this instead:
- Keep your shoulders straight and ‘pinned back’
- Hinge at your hips with soft knees and lower your upper body towards the ground
- Grab ahold of the object you are trying to lift and brace your core
- Pushing down through your legs, like you’re trying to push the floor away from you, stand back up.
Voila. You have deadlifted a heavy object.
Why are functional exercises important?
Functional exercises are important because they are quite literally what help you through your day to day life.
As stated in the above paragraphs, you have to have these types of exercises in your routine to be able to strengthen the muscles that you use every single day.
Basically, the strengthening of these muscles and the incorporation of these exercises make your life movement more efficient.
But… Functional Exercises aren’t glamorous.
Well. That part is correct. Although I would like to offer that the clean is a pretty cool looking exercise…. but, I digress.
And, how about a deadlift? How much more bad A mama can you get than working towards being able to deadlift your body weight?
But! Functional exercises are not glamorous exercises like you see on the endless feed of Instagram fitness ‘influencers’, but they are important.
So important in fact, that I would like to propose to you that if you did a program that strengthened the muscles you needed for everyday movements instead of only the ones that will “shred your abs” or “carve your back muscles” you’d reach your goals faster.
I’m totally serious here, so go with me.
Am I saying that all of your exercise routine should be functional moves only? Of course not. What I am saying is that your workouts should strengthen those muscles that help with the functional moves of life.
Let’s take your biceps in your arms.
Your biceps do a lot of work throughout the day that you probably don’t even think about. And good looking biceps are sexy on men and women, amIright?
Well, strengthening your biceps is a great place to start.
“So, Amber, you’re saying just do 500 bicep curls and I’m good?”
Uh. No. Keep tracking with me here.
There are about 8 bazillion different ways to do a bicep curl, and yet, the only one we can think of doing while we’re in the gym is straight up and down from our thighs to our shoulders.
Here’s a few variations on bicep curls just for kicks and giggles:
- Hammer Curls
- Bent supinated grip bicep row
- Horizontal Bicep Curls
- Concentration Curls
- Zottoman Curl
- Preacher Curl
….Are you seeing my point here?
How about your legs? Your legs do just about everything for you from walking to running, to everything in between.
Building and shaping those legs helps get strength for those daily movements such as climbing the stairs while carrying a baby carrier, right?
Workout your body as a whole.
Yes, working your body as a whole will be important. That doesn’t mean to not do exercises that target certain areas. That’s not what I’m saying at all!
What I am saying is to not forget to move your body as a unit and not just broken up into what I typically call accessory exercises.
I think you get my point on how important functional exercising is.
No, it’s not always glamorous. I mean, who wants to be lying flat on the gym floor then getting up as quickly as you can? And back down again. Then up. Then back down.
I mean. Weirdo, right?
But at this point, who freaking cares. You’ve got crap to do in your life and if that means doing some exercises that aren’t so hip and glam, then so be it!
If you want to throw in your e-mail below, I will send you a week of free full body workouts for the gym that have functional exercises in them.
Don’t worry, I keep your email address safe and I never spam. In addition to the free week of workouts, I’ll send you a few gifts and then I’ll send you a weekly motivational email on Sunday afternoon to get your motor running for Monday!
Look. I know it’s hard sometimes doing things we don’t want to do. Especially when our time is so extremely limited.
Believe me, I get not having time. I 100% understand not having time to literally go to the bathroom let alone getting a good workout in. I am a wife, mother, and I own my own business, so there are times that I have to get in a killer workout in between clients and sometimes I just want to do the glamorous stuff.
But, do you know what?
It’s not always the glamorous stuff that will get me to my goals. I’m not just talking about fitness goals; I’m talking about life goals.
Being healthy and fit helps me to live well and I love it. So bring on the functional exercises with a sprinkle of the glamorous exercises and here’s to living well, sister.