How to Improve your Functional Fitness in 5 Easy Steps
The term functional fitness has been used for just about every single type of training activity that swerves from the norm and presents itself in a unique form and from a new perspective on fitness. Although potentially fun while providing a new type of stimulus to make progress from, many times these new options are unnecessary and even worse, unrewarding. If you are seeking out a way to improve upon your functional fitness, then take heed to the following 5 steps for improving upon what you are already doing.
Step #1: Stop thinking functional fitness is something other than what you are already doing
There is no need to think that your current training program doesn't already fall under the "functional" category when the fact of the matter is it does. Everything you are currently doing, exercise wise, has a function. If you are benching every week, then it's function is to improve your pectoral size and strength. Running on the treadmill every day? Then it's function is to improve your endurance, burn body fat or improve overall cardiovascular health. Stop thinking functional fitness only exists in the unconventional while utilizing exercises that are rarely seen at your local health club.
Step #2: Keep training with weights
The idea of functional fitness has manifested itself into programs that are riddled with body weight exercises and movements which rely heavily upon the components of speed, agility and quickness. While this is all well and good, to truly strengthen your body you have to expose it to overload and unless you are gaining weight with each week that passes, doing all of these body weight exercises just won't cut it. That's why keeping free weights and machines into the equation is a must. Keep working at getting better in your movement patterns, just don't abandon what is tried and true.
Step #3: Incorporate Sport Specific Training
Need to get better in your sport and enhance your kinetic abilities? Then there's no better way to do that than simulating certain movement patterns connected to your sport while being in an overloaded capacity or fighting foreign resistance. Often times athletes will seek out workouts to improve their functional fitness when all they have to do is work on scenarios that may present themselves during game time while having to deal with resistance and stress that isn't normally there. By doing that not only will you be improving your fitness levels, but you'll be improving your performance abilities as well.
Step #4: Step out of your Norm
We are all creatures of habit and because of this tend to fall into and stick with what is familiar and comfortable to us. Unfortunately, comfort and familiarity won't equate to solid gains so even though I said in the intro that by doing these steps you'll be improving upon what you're already doing, there does come a time when you have to completely switch things up. New stimuli such as workouts that you have never done, exercises that you thought you would never perform and approaches to training that perhaps you've never heard of may just be the catalyst to new growth for you. And when it comes to functional fitness workouts, there will be no shortage of new things for you to try.
Step #5: Thrive in the Unstable
One of the best components in what we are seeing as functional training workouts is the idea of using old school exercises while on unstable ground. For example, performing dumbbell squats while on a bosu ball or doing chess presses while balancing on an exercise ball. These types of activities will provide the body a whole new stimulus for strengthening all of the smaller ancillary muscles that are relied upon for total stability. When these muscles get stronger, we get stronger as a whole which is a great thing to me. I will caution you though, while using instability methods for training your lower body, make sure you've invested in a solid pair of nearly flat soled, high top shoes such as the Prime Trainer Gym Sneaker. This type of shoe will provide you with a solid grip on the apparatus that you're using with all of the ability to adjust and move if you need to.
All you need to remember is that your functional fitness aspirations are already taking place. All you have to do is keep working hard at what you are doing and throw in something new every now and then, such as a great pair of Heydays!
Author: Dana BushellAST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, Sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.