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Functional Training: What it is and why it matters

We often hear the term “functional training” thrown around in the fitness community. What is functional training and why does it matter? To keep things simple, functional training prepares you for movement in real life! It allows your body to work as a whole unit in the most efficient way. There are certain movements patterns that we use on a daily basis. These are referred to as average daily living movements or ADL. There are seven that I would like to bring your attention to. These are movements you should incorporate into any training program. I have provided examples of these in both ADL and the gym setting.

PUSH: ADL: Pushing open a door GYM: push-up or overhead press

PULL: ADL: Pulling a vacuum cleaner GYM: row, lat pull-down, shoulder shrug

TWIST: ADL: Getting in or out of a car GYM: wood chops or Russian twist

BALANCE: ADL: Stepping off of a curb GYM: Single leg anything!

HINGE: ADL: Loading the dishwasher GYM: Deadlift or back extension

LUNGE: ADL: Taking a step forward GYM: Walking, back, or side lunges

SQUAT: ADL: Standing up from a chair GYM: front, back, or side loaded squats

Functional training should contain these basic movement patterns. It is about balancing out the system and training your body for a life of pain-free movement. Here is my best advice: 1) Start to incorporate these movement patterns into your training program. 2) Pay attention to the core (abs, back, hips). Anything needed to stabilize the spine involves core strength. If you build up your core, it will help you complete the rest of these movement patterns. 3) If you are using the same muscles everyday for your profession, think about strengthening the opposing muscles. You may be an automobile mechanic for example. If you always have your arms overhead, you may be super strong in that area. Think about training other muscles in the gym. Perhaps opening the chest, working your leg strength, or completing moves with your arms down would be a good place to start. We all develop compensations so just build awareness to what will bring balance to the body. Aches and pains come in when we overuse and overwork specific muscle groups. An easy way to think about it is, whatever you do most of your day, whatever your posture is most of the day, do the opposite when you hit the gym!

Learn the moves from Jenn Benson Women’s Empowerment Coach in Atlanta GA for average daily living that will help you prevent injury and stay functional throughout your life with functional training.

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