Tag Archives: functional training

Train Like an Athlete for a Better Physique

5 Jul

Training with a focus on performance, instead of aesthetics, will help you build a lean, functional body that will feel better, look better, and perform better.

Here are a few tips:

Lift Heavy.  Instead of using weight that you can easily lift, push, or pull, opt for heavier weight that challenges you for your desired number of repetitions, each set.  Your last few repetitions, of your last set, should be a struggle, if you can complete them at all.

Keep Moving.  Turn your workout into a metabolic circuit by reducing rest intervals between sets.  Proceed from one exercise to the next, allowing as little rest as you can manage while maintaining proper form and technique.

Train Movements, Not Muscles.  Incorporate exercises like burpees (squat thrusts), medicine ball slams, dumbbell squat to press, and jumps to your regimen.  Try to avoid machines and use free weights whenever possible, since machines tend to restrict movement to a very narrow range-of-motion.

Upgrade Your Diet.  Eliminate (or at least reduce) sugars from your diet, and make protein and produce the centerpiece of each meal.  Avoid big meals, instead aiming for 5-6 small meals and snacks throughout the day — advance planning and preparation is the key.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Advertisements

Train Movements, Not Muscles

2 Mar

Core_2[1]Want a smarter approach to training your entire body?  How about improving your athletic performance?  The next time you step into the weight room, don’t think about what muscles you’re going to train, think about what movements you’re going to train.

Your muscles don’t work independently of each other, regardless of the exercise(s) you perform.  Your body is a complex system of interconnected muscles and connective tissue (and nervous system) that facilitates movement.  Whether your goals are strength, fitness, or wellness, train your muscles as a dependent, functional unit and get better results.

The term “functional” training gets thrown around, a lot.  Simply stated, functional exercises are those that require balance, stability, and coordination — in addition to strength.  Functional movements reflect the demands and movement patterns of your daily activity.

So, what does “movement” based exercise look like?  Below are examples of movement patterns and corresponding exercises for each:

  • Lower-Body Push: Squat, Stepup
  • Lower-Body Pull: Glute-Ham Raise, Romanian Deadlift
  • Horizontal Push: Bench Press, Pushup
  • Horizontal Pull: Barbell Row, Seated Cable Row
  • Vertical Push: Shoulder Press, Push Press
  • Vertical Pull: Lat Pulldown, Chinup
  • Rotational: Russian Twist, Kettlebell Woodchopper
  • Core Strengthening: Plank, Rollout

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Get Functionally Fit in 2015

29 Dec

bigstock-Gym-man-and-woman-push-up-stre-40734724[1]It’s New Year’s resolution time and, for some of us, that means a major overhaul of our diet and exercise plans in 2015.

For others, a few modifications to our current regimen is all we’ll need.

And, of course, there will be those of us for whom 2015 — from a fitness perspective — will be “business as usual.”

Regardless of your plan, don’t just get (or stay) fit in 2015… get functionally fit.

Functional training means challenging yourself with exercises that not only build strength, but also require balance and stability.  Avoid or minimize stationary, machine-based exercises that “lock” you into single-joint and/or isolated muscle group movements.

Free weights generally require more balance, stability, and core activation than machines and can also provide for a greater range-of-motion.  And don’t limit yourself to pushing and pulling exercises.  You can use kettlebells and medicine balls to bend, twist, turn, carry, swing, toss, and throw.

Perform more unilateral exercises — those that work one arm, one leg, or one side of the body — as an alternative to traditional bilateral exercises.  Single-leg exercise versions of the squat, Romanian deadlift, and Bulgarian split squat work the entire lower body and prevent the stronger limb from compensating for the weaker one.  The same principle applies to upper-body exercises like single-arm presses and rows.

Perform more exercises on your feet, as opposed to sitting or lying down.  Try using a suspension trainer, like the TRX, and you’ll activate your core with every exercise you do.

If you’re going to do cardio, get away from the traditional slow, steady paced jog.  Incorporate high-intensity interval training into your routine.  Add exercises and drills that require backpedaling, lateral shuffling, hopping, skipping, and lunging.

Do more movement-based training, and less muscle-based training, and you’ll look, feel, function, and perform better than ever.

Looking for some help, guidance and/or direction to get started?  Contact us today via our website.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Mobility: Make Your Workouts More Functional

28 Nov

functional_training3[1]

Physioball Weight Roll

We focus on functional training for our athletes.  That means movement-based — and not muscle-based — exercises make up the majority of every athlete’s workout.  In addition to developing strength, speed, agility, and athleticism, we want our athletes to improve mobility, balance, coordination, and stability.  All these components contribute to a more powerful, capable athlete.

Ultimately, the athlete’s training should reflect the demands and movement patterns of his or her sport.

Better mobility helps athletes reduce the incidence of injury, and also gives players a considerable advantage on the court or field.  Hip and ankle mobility are important for explosive movements like sprinting; accelerating and decelerating; changing direction; and blocking and tackling.

  • Unilateral exercises (those which load one side of the body at a time), like single-arm presses and single-leg squats, are probably more reflective of sports performance than traditional bilateral exercises (loading both sides equally).  We like alternating between unilateral and bilateral exercises, for a specific movement or muscle group, every other week, to build a stronger, more balanced musculature.
  • Perform more exercises standing, including standing on one leg.  When you sit or lie down to do an exercise, you’re not supporting your own weight and, as a result, you’re compromising the development of core strength and stability.
  • Get away from training on machines that “lock” your body into exercises that don’t require balance or stability, and those that don’t work multiple joints and muscle groups from different angles.  Opt instead for free-weight exercises using dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, or even sandbags.
  • Move through different planes of motion when you workout.  Lateral, transverse (diagonal), rotational, and anti-rotational exercises are great additions to any training regimen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Train Like an Athlete for a Better Physique

24 Feb

fit_-_man_and_woman-e1362931185920[1]Training with a focus on performance, instead of aesthetics, will help you build a lean, functional body that will feel better, look better, and perform better.

Here are a few tips:

Lift Heavy.  Instead of using weight that you can easily lift, push, or pull, opt for heavier weight that challenges you for your desired number of repetitions, each set.  Your last few repetitions, of your last set, should be a struggle, if you can complete them at all.

Keep Moving.  Turn your workout into a metabolic circuit by reducing rest intervals between sets.  Proceed from one exercise to the next, allowing as little rest as you can manage while maintaining proper form and technique.

Train Movements, Not Muscles.  Incorporate exercises like burpees (squat thrusts), medicine ball slams, dumbbell squat to press, and jumps to your regimen.  Try to avoid machines and use free weights whenever possible, since machines tend to restrict movement to a very narrow range-of-motion.

Upgrade Your Diet.  Eliminate (or at least reduce) sugars from your diet, and make protein and produce the centerpiece of each meal.  Avoid big meals, instead aiming for 5-6 small meals and snacks throughout the day — advance planning and preparation is the key.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Train Movements, Not Muscles

22 Feb

Core_2[1]Want a smarter approach to training your entire body?  How about improving your athletic performance?  The next time you step into the weight room, don’t think about what muscles you’re going to train, think about what movements you’re going to train.

Your muscles don’t work independently of each other, regardless of the exercise(s) you perform.  Your body is a complex system of interconnected muscles and connective tissue (and nervous system) that facilitates movement.  Whether your goals are strength, fitness, or wellness, train your muscles as a dependent, functional unit and get better results.

The term “functional” training gets thrown around, a lot.  Simply stated, functional exercises are those that require balance, stability, and coordination — in addition to strength.

So, what does “movement” based exercise look like?  Below are examples of movement patterns and corresponding exercises for each:

  • Lower-Body Push: Squat, Stepup
  • Lower-Body Pull: Glute-Ham Raise, Romanian Deadlift
  • Horizontal Push: Bench Press, Pushup
  • Horizontal Pull: Barbell Row, Seated Cable Row
  • Vertical Push: Shoulder Press, Push Press
  • Vertical Pull: Lat Pulldown, Chinup
  • Rotational: Russian Twist, Kettlebell Woodchopper
  • Core Strengthening: Plank, Rollout

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Why You Should Do More of Your Workout on Your Feet

3 Dec

exm3000lpshomegympic[2]This one is for my friend, Jim Smith.  Last night we were working a charity fund-raising event and we got to talking about fitness.  As we discussed different exercises and exercise strategies, our dialog gravitated toward the topics of free weights vs. machines and standing exercises vs. sitting/supine (lying down) exercises.

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the simple act of standing up instead of sitting may help you burn as many as 50 more calories per hour, depending on your size. Although 50 calories may not seem like a lot in a 2,000-calorie day, making the standing adjustment for four hours out of the day can burn an extra 200 calories a day — leading to a 20 lb. weight loss over the course of a year.  When you factor weight-bearing exercise (strength training) into the equation, these results become multiplicative.

Functional Exercise

Typically, free weight exercises tend to be more functional than machine exercises, and standing exercises more so than sitting or lying down exercises.  Comparatively speaking, exercises become more functional when they incorporate elements of balance, coordination, and stability, in addition to strength.  There are some very good machine exercises — like the leg press (sitting) — that are not very high on functionality.  The bench press is an example of a terrific free-weight exercise that is performed lying down.  My point is, you can’t be too rigid about your strength training “rules” and guidelines.  The strategies that work best for you are the ones that are aligned with your goals.

Core Stability

Standing exercises elicit greater muscle activation than either sitting or lying down exercises.  They help you improve your core stability by making the muscles of your trunk work harder (and become stronger) to keep your spine and body stable.  This helps you stay balanced when you move.  Core stability benefits everyone, from older people to top professional athletes.  Your core musculature (shoulders through hips) supports the rest of your muscles when you move.  Ultimately, the greater the muscle involvement, the greater the strength and fitness benefit.

Machines vs. Free Weights

While I’m not a big fan of machines, they certainly have their collective place in the world of strength and fitness training.  On one hand, almost all machine exercises are performed “off your feet.”  Additionally, they tend to “lock” you into a single range of motion, isolating muscles and eliminating the opportunity for multiple muscle groups to work dependently.  In other words, machines tend to train muscles and not movements.  And, since my primary area of focus is performance training for athletes, I believe we should be training movements and not just muscles (ironically, this approach makes sense even if you’re not an athlete).  On the other hand, machines are especially useful for novice exercisers, post-injury rehabilitation, and circuit training; and eliminate the need to change weight plates and dumbbells.  Here a few examples of standing, free weight exercises that can be substituted for seated, machine exercises:

  • Stepup instead of seated leg extension
  • Romanian deadlift instead of seated hamstring curl
  • TRX suspended pushup instead of seated machine chest press
  • Bent-over row instead of seated row
  • Standing push press instead of seated military press
  • Standing weighted twist (or transverse kettlebell twist) instead of seated oblique twist
  • Hanging leg raise instead of supine crunch

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: