We can all step into a gym and bicep curl or lat pull down our way to muscular glory, but these movements aren’t necessarily going to assist you in day to day tasks. Sure, they might help you score a date, or maybe carry a few extra bags of groceries, but for everyday tasks, you need to take a leaf out of Chris Hemsworth’s book and add some ‘secret’ moves into your workouts.
Called functional training, Chris’ Centr team may refer to it as a ‘secret’ workout move (see: ‘the secret moves every workout needs‘), but they’re actually incredibly common, just occasionally overlooked. As Cameron Falloon, founder of Body Fit Training (BFT) tells DMARGE, “functional training is where you do exercises during your workout that are relevant to the movements you would do in everyday life.”
“The 7 primal movement patterns are: push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge, rotation and gait. For example, a deadlift will help you lift something heavy off the ground.”
Centr adds there are risks to be aware of if you don’t perform functional training movements: “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.”
Hemsworth’s training team adds some examples of everyday tasks that stand to benefit from functional training, “…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.”
Cameron agrees, telling DMARGE, “In real life we operate on multi-directional movement patterns, so doing exercises, such as with cables that go across the body and also relevant functional exercises are incredibly beneficial. Also, exercises that resist rotation (anti-rotation) are ideal, for instances where you are loaded up; for example, carrying shopping bags on one side of your body. You want to stay tall and not fold under duress, so these exercises are very important.”
So, that’s what functional training is and how it can help you, but what are some examples of functional training exercises you can add into your workout routine? We’re glad you asked.
Cameron says some prime examples include, “Squats, and lunges in multiple directions or even lunges with an exercise ball that twists away from your front leg as you lunge.”
“Pushups with shoulder taps, keeping your hips still and level when you take one hand off the ground and tap your opposite shoulder. Hip extensions – double leg to start and progress to single leg – and side planks with a hip drop.”
“Exercises done on one leg such as a split squat, or a one leg deadlift and more, are also great functional movements to add into your routine”
“Also, anything that involves jumping and landing”, such as plyometrics, “or some other cardiovascular exercise, such as a brisk walk, running, bike riding, swimming etc..something fun that elevates your heart rate.”
The Centr team goes a little further, adding “Functional training includes multidirectional movements, putting an emphasis on our core muscles as well as various stabilising muscles to promote the flexibility and agility to move freely in daily life on all directional planes.”
Check out some of Centr team member Da Rulk’s examples of functional training in the video below.
But of course, your whole workout routine can’t rely solely on functional training, although it’s definitely wise to include some at least twice a week. We asked Cameron for another ‘secret’ movement that he performs on a regular basis to help him in his everyday lift.
“I prefer compound movements that involve multiple joints in the body and multiple large and small muscle groups. An example of this would be Olympic lifting exercises. These will have a greater metabolic impact than isolated exercises.”
“Using cables is also a great way to do multi-directional movement patterns. You can do wood chops into lunges, cable cross overs and wide grip lat pulldowns.”
Functional training is, therefore, an essential addition to your workouts, and you don’t necessarily need a gym membership to perform them, as many can be carried out using just your bodyweight at home. Incorporate these, along with some essential stretches before and after your workout, and you’ll no doubt notice the difference in the way you move in no time.