I have worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years now and over the past few years I have seen a massive increase in the popularity of Functional Training. Now, by Functional Training I mean exercises which develop a person’s day to day movements and help them to be fitter for everyday life. Personally I incorporate loads of functional exercises into my own training and also my client’s workouts as they have a host of benefits:

  • Add variety to workouts to keep things interesting and exciting
  • Exercises can easily be adapted so suitable for all fitness and ability levels
  • For the same reason exercises can also be easily adapted to allow continual progression
  • Generally only require a small space so can easily be performed in your house/hotel room/ studio, etc.
  • Predominantly work a variety of muscle groups including the core muscles which makes your training sessions very efficient
  • As mentioned they also help you to be fitter and injury free for day to day life.

With this increase in popularity has come a host of Functional Training equipment which is fantastic as the variety of exercises available is endless. So I thought today I would go through a few of my favourite pieces of kit and their benefits.

BOSUBALL

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BOSU stands for “Both Sides Up” or “Both Sides Utilized” as you can use it with the dome facing up (as pictured) or flipped to have the flat plastic side facing up. It is a fantastic tool which can be used to improve your balance and flexibility, sharpen your reflexes, and reshape your body. It can be incorporated into almost any workout and make movements such as squats, press ups, Lunges, sit ups and plank, far more challenging. As it requires you to use your core and stabilizing muscles it makes your workouts more intense, therefore more efficient and ultimately lead to more calories being burned.


SUSPENSION TRAINERS

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Suspension trainers (or TRX which are the most commonly known company to produce them) are fantastic pieces of kit. I own one myself and the fact that it is lightweight, portable, can be used almost anywhere, and can work your full body is why I feel it is a must have bit of kit. No matter you or your clients goals whether it be to; build strength, improve power, lose fat, improve endurance or improve stability, Suspension training can do the lot. I try to incorporate some into all of my clients workouts as with so many benefits it is crazy not to.


KETTLEBELLS

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Kettlebells which are basically weighted balls with a handle at the top are a fantastic tool for adding a bit of extra edge to your training programme. The benefit of kettlebells is that they are accessible for all people from the elite athlete to the gym newbie and have the benefit of providing a cardio, strength and flexibility workout all in one. Personally I love the fact that due to the body having to recruit your stabilizing muscles to carry out the movements you see the added benefits of a whole body workout in a few movements. That along with spiking your heart rate from throwing around a heavy weight will help to torch fat whilst building muscle.


BATTLEROPES

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Battle ropes aren’t anything fancy in design in that they are simply a heavy rope that you would possibly find used for industrial work, however they can provide endless ways to challenge yourself. For years they have been used as a training tool for American football players, mixed martial artists, and other athletes who require exercises to improve their functionality, agility, cardio vascular fitness and strength.

Unlike the relatively static movement of lifting and lowering a barbell, using battle ropes is a dynamic, ever-changing form of movement that has the added benefit of showing you whether you’re doing the movements correctly. The ropes can be whipped, slammed, or dragged, but among the most popular are undulating movements that cause the ropes to move in waves (1)

Many of my clients enjoy using them as it is an exciting break from doing cardio exercises which involve your lower body doing the brunt of the work.


RESISTANCE BANDS

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Similar to a suspension trainer, resistance bands are a fantastic piece of equipment that are lightweight, compact and can be utilized for a full body workout. Aside from that they are a very safe piece of equipment suitable for all ages, even my 6 year old has his own bands which he uses in his room. They are very low impact on your joints yet provide a versatile workout which can be altered by simply stretching the band, hooking around a door handle, or slowing down the movements to allow progression for all ability levels.


Medicine Balls

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Medicine balls like Kettlebells and Dumbbells come in various sizes and weights to cater for all abilities, they are also a very safe, versatile and fun piece of equipment. What is great about them is that young or inexperienced gym goers can use them without the need for a lot of technical ability as most people have the ability to throw or catch a ball. I have my clients slamming them, throwing them off walls, picking them up and throwing them to their partner, the list is endless as are the benefits.


Summary

Functional training is a fantastic way to improve so many types of fitness from; cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, power, agility and life fitness. On top of that the exercises incorporate your body’s stabilizing muscles and also many peripheral muscles that would often be neglected from standard weight training alone. So in order to heavy a well-balanced, injury free healthy physique I would highly recommend adding some Functional training exercises to your repertoire.

References

  • https://fitness.mercula.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/06/05/battle-ropes.aspx

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