A great way to incorporate functional training into your workouts is by using it as a warm-up. Typically, these exercises will involve using light resistance to work out the entire body, with an emphasis on movement quality. Doing a few of these exercises before the main part of your workout will not only prepare you for more intense exercises but also improve your athleticism and balance (hence why it’s functional). This can also be a surprisingly tough “warm-up” depending on the amount of movement involved throughout this functional exercise circuit.
What is functional training?
Although there is no set definition, here is how I describe it:
Functional training uses foundational movements that incorporate the entire body against resistance to improve your ability to perform daily and athletic activities. This can be as simple as a squat with an overhead press or a more complex exercise like a single-leg hinge with a cable row while balancing on a BOSU ball.
Of course, some exercises can crossover categories (like many things in life). Squats of any kind are functional because we do them in daily life and athletics. A bodyweight squat for most people would be a light leg warmup exercise, whereas a heavy barbell squat for 3 reps will be a pure strength exercise. Now if we do a lightly weighted squat and add a row or press to it, we have a functional exercise. Sometimes functional exercises highly resemble a specific movement making its functionality very obvious. Others may not at all, but because we are using our whole body to move weight with sound body mechanics, we then train our bodies to work as an integrated unit to perform work.
Benefits of a functional warm-up:
Here are two examples of a functional warm-up routine.
Functional warm-up 1:
Functional warm-up 2:
Both of these warm-ups work all the major muscle groups in an integrated fashion. I find this a much better use of time than 5 minutes on the bike and 5 minutes of stretching. Often, I have my clients do a few minutes of dynamic stretches, then a 10-minute functional warm-up.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CSCS, CMT #75123
299 California Ave, Suite 120
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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