Do you struggle to drag yourself from the couch or groan when the elevator ‘out of order’ sign means you’re taking the stairs? Functional fitness makes these little tests of strength or endurance an absolute breeze.
Okay, so ‘functional exercises’ don’t sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but trust us: these power-packed moves will give your workouts and everyday life a serious boost – and they're a favorite of Centr founder, Chris Hemsworth.
Functional training breaks down the movement patterns of everyday activities into targeted, honed exercises and it has benefits for the rest of your workouts, too. If you spend all day at a desk and then try to jump straight into high-intensity resistance exercises, there’s a higher risk of injury if your body isn’t functionally strong. These moves help get you there.
Taking some key moves from Da Rulk’s training, here are three ways regular functional exercise can make your life a whole lot better.
1. You can manage a little more heavy lifting.
Unless you have an active job, you might not think you have a lot of physical challenges outside of your workouts. But think about mowing the lawn, weekend DIYing or helping Andy next door move his new sofa in. You might have even pulled a muscle trying to do these before. That’s because these involve big movement patterns, and need special cardio fitness and strength.
Fortunately for you, functional training uses compound exercises (exercises that use more than one muscle group and more than one joint at a time), which are perfect conditioning for all-over, everyday strength.
Side Gorillas improve hip mobility while engaging the arms, legs, shoulders and core: Essentially, all the muscle groups you engage to lift and move heavy objects off the ground, safely.
These moves make you better at pulling and pushing heavy objects while maintaining stability and engaging your core, so you don’t damage your back or shoulders.
Da Rulk focuses on those exact movement patterns of everyday life and breaks them down into the most efficient exercises possible.
2. You can get low.
If hauling yourself off the sofa or out of bed feels like a mammoth effort, or squatting low to pick things up from the ground is a major inconvenience, you probably need a little functional training.
Most of us probably spend a good portion of our day sitting. Maybe our main exercise is just a bit of steady-state cardio now and then. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to maintain our ideal mobility. Functional exercises develop your full range of motion.
We know squats and lunges are a super-power move – that’s why they feel so challenging. The more you strengthen those glutes, the more power you engage from your posterior chain to drive you up and off that low sofa.
Da Rulk has a great exercise to help, though you may not like him for it.
By focusing on that part of a squat – parallel to the floor and below – you are training the lower range of motion in your squat. Work on those muscles, and you’ll notice the difference next time you crouch or climb stairs.
3. You can move up, down, all around.
It would be super boring if everyday life was just forwards and backward. We move sideways, we rotate our bodies to look behind us or to change direction and we twist and turn without a second thought as part of everyday activities. Now think of all the times you pulled a muscle or lost your balance when you were trying to do something mundane like reach behind you or dodge an uneven sidewalk.
Functional training includes multidirectional movements, putting an emphasis on our core muscles as well as various stabilizing muscles to promote the flexibility and agility to move freely in daily life on all directional planes.
Switches, and those Side Gorillas we looked at earlier, are great moves for multidirectional mobility and the kind of fancy footwork that keeps your mind engaged too.
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