We all know it’s best to switch up our workout routine every six weeks to bust through plateaus. However, reinventing our training regimen can be harder than anticipated. So you may be surprised to hear that the solution to redefining your workouts could be right under your nose. Try eliminating basic weight machines for a few weeks and refocus on group fitness classes and functional training. It may be just what your body needs. After all, functional training is altering the gym terrains as we know them and transforming mainstream fitness.
To be fit, you want to burn fat and carve out a toned physique, but you also want your muscles and joints to move and flex with ease. You want to be stronger, faster, and more agile, not just now, but as you age. That’s exactly why you balance out isolation training with function workouts. It’s not just a fitness fad either. Science is proving it to be one of the keys to toning and tightening up. Is this the future of fitness?
Let’s think for a moment. When you imagine a state-of-the-art fitness facility, one that is equipped with the latest and greatest innovative equipment, what do you envision? What comes to your mind? How about a padded room with ropes, plyo boxes, medicine balls, stability balls, and TRX ropes? Let’s face it, not every exercise trend has the science to back it. We have all seen our fair share of phony fitness advertisements on late night television: a hot fitness item one day and gone the next.
On the other hand, the research on total body functional exercises makes this type of training hard to pass up. The science is there. A landmark 2008 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research proves that people who exercised using free-form cable machines became 58 percent stronger than those performing similar moves on a fixed piece of equipment; the cable-machine group also had a heightened improvement in balance.
Types of Training
Strength Training: A type of resistance training used to cause muscle contractions, which build lean muscle tissue, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.
Hypertrophy Training: A method of strength training intended to cause the fastest muscle growth possible, naturally, without losing effectiveness over an extended period of time.
Functional Hypertrophy Training: Grows your muscles in a way that will improve physical performance as well as body composition and metabolism. It also allows the body to perform better, limiting injury.
Agility Training: The use of drills to improve sports performance, usually used in sports such as tennis, hockey, volleyball, football and soccer. The use of plyometrics is a common practice for athletes.
Functional Training is Key
Functional training is a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life. This type of training focuses on building a strong body capable of performing basic, every day movements versus lifting a certain amount of weight in a predetermined posture on a weight lifting machine. Conventional training with weight using predetermined postures on your everyday equipment allows you to isolate muscle groups; however it does not build balance and is unable to teach muscles to function harmoniously as functional training does.
The Secret Weapons of Building Muscle with Functional Training
Kettle bells: All of the free weight on the ball is below the handle, making these bells difficult to control and balance their movement versus a standard dumbbell that has all weight distributed evenly. The bells focus on creating and controlling momentum. By swinging the kettle bell in various directions and speeds, you are able to tap into larger muscle groups in the legs and glutes, along with small muscle groups in your core like your abdominals.
Plyo Box: These boxes range from six inches on up. They are the perfect tools for intense cardio and strengthening the hard-to-tone leg muscles.
TRX Straps: TRX allows the body to balance and strengthen while working in an unstable environment. These straps involve suspending areas of the body in space while performing any given exercise.
Medicine Balls: These versatile and portable weighted balls are great for oblique twists, partner exercises, and tossing around during exercises. This weighted ball training was discovered by the ancient Greeks to improve strength, explosive speed, and endurance. When training with the medicine balls, movements should focus on the quality and speed of execution over the number of sets and reps performed. Controlled and powerful movements are key.
Battle Ropes: This tool is fun, and not only increases physical strength, but research shows it improves mental strength in athletes as they become accustomed to overcoming obstacles, a key attribute of success in life and in fitness. Battle rope training is a full body workout engaging the neuromuscular system as force is applied to the core and quickly moves to the extremities of the trainer’s arms and legs. The high intensity momentum of the ropes grants the ability to enhance endurance while it expedites fat burning. These ropes come in a variety of diameters from 1.5 to 2 inches and lengths of about 50 to 60 feet.
Try a functional class today! By utilizing complex movement instead of a fixed machine, your body is forced to strengthen its coordination while it recruits more muscle fibers and brainpower to perform the exercise demanded, leading you to the quick results.