Training for Daily Living

Functional training means training your body to better perform the type of movements you use for everyday living. A functional program targets specific movements, then mimics those movements during exercise. A good program focuses on weak areas and sets specific goals. Examples would be having a tennis player lunge to a chop or a young mother squat to a twist.

 

Traditional weight lifting is a thing of the past and has been proven to produce limited results. To build appropriate muscle, joint strength, balance and flexibility in all planes of motion, it’s important to exercise the body in a functional manner. The time spent developing this specific strength, flexibility and agility results in greater efficiency and effectiveness in your daily activities.

Core stability, flexibility and balance are key factors when designing a functional exercise routine. It is important to maintain posture while being able to move all joints in a full range of motion. Training with free weights and challenging the surrounding environment promotes balance and stability, which is necessary if you expect to see benefits outside of the gym. Keep in mind it is more important to be able to control your own body weight and concentrate on form, balance and core endurance than to move heavy weights.

Strengthening the Core
A weak core contributes to poor stability and inhibits proper limb movements, causing muscle imbalances, which is why falls are common as we age. Many back and hip injuries are related to weak core muscles. Strengthening the core (mid section) is beyond sit ups and back extensions, it is crucial to focus on core exercises that require standing on 1 leg and pelvic movement in all planes of motion. This ensures all muscles are trained (not just prime movers)in order to maintain a healthy spine and enhance stability. Without stability, even the strongest person can’t effectively propel a force into the environment.
    
To completely train the core, you must include dynamic stabilization as well as isometric and proprioceptive movements not just for the mid-section, but the entire trunk. Medicine balls, balance boards, foam rollers and physio balls are great tools for core training and should be integrated into every program. The only way to enhance your body’s movements is to mimic the movement in the gym until it becomes automatic in your everyday activities.

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These resources are for the purpose of personal trainer growth and development through Continuing Education which advances the knowledge of fitness professionals. This article is written for NFPT Certified Personal Trainers to receive Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Please contact NFPT at 800.729.6378 or [email protected] with questions or for more information.