What Functional Fitness Means to Me

What Functional Fitness Means to Me

Exercise comes in many shapes and sizes. You can set your focus to anything from powerlifting to marathon running to bodybuilding. But these are simply the many branches of one tree: functional fitness. When it comes to basic human biomechanics, we move on three planes of motion: sagittal (step forward), frontal (step lateral), and transverse (twist). Knowing first how to exercise functionally is like knowing how to hold a guitar before you practice playing.

If you’re going to exercise for a healthy body, regardless of the branch you choose to focus on, why not do it based on the science of your body? To only perform your exercises on the sagittal plane can create a muscular imbalance throughout the body, which can lead to injuries. An example of this would be to only run, lunge forward, curl dumbbells, and squat. It’s important to incorporate triplanar movements (all three planes) into your exercise routines.

My advice is this: if working out on your own, keep track of what you do throughout the week. Keep an eye out for patterns such as overworking one muscle group or even completely ignoring one of the planes of motion. For best results (and to take the thinking and planning out of it), get into Function Factory and benefit from guided functional fitness throughout each week.

Intensity is All Relative

Intensity is All Relative

“Whoa! I can barely walk after yesterday’s leg workout!” On a scale of 1-10, just how intense are your workouts? While the extra focus from a trainer will ensure proper intensity levels, the question still remains.

From your heart rate to ‘feeling the burn,’ performing at the ideal intensity level will maximize results and lower risk of injury. If exercising at higher intensity levels with cardio, such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, you should be paying attention to your heart rate, breathing and vision. When working with resistance, such as lifting with dumbbells, you should feel that ‘final burn’ in the last couple reps.

My advice is this: with high intensity cardio, take the occasional 15-second break to catch your breath and assess how you’re feeling. You should be breathing heavy but still able to catch your breath. If you’re seeing spots or feel like your heart is about to explode, it’s time to grab a water break and take it a little bit easier. With resistance exercises, use a weight/resistance where performing 10-12 reps gives you that noticeable muscle burn in the last 2-3 reps. The resistance guidelines will vary depending on the type of workouts you perform, but it’s a great foundation to start with.

Perceived Lack of Time

Perceived Lack of Time

One of the first things I learned when I started studying for my personal trainer certification is that a perceived lack of time is the number one reason individuals skip exercising. Which then introduced me to my favorite motivational quote to use against that: ‘someone busier than you is exercising right now.’ Spend 15 minutes less thinking of excuses to not workout, 15 minutes less browsing social media, and 30 minutes less streaming Netflix… bam, you have an hour available to warm-up, work out, and cool down.

This perceived lack of time leads to desires for quick, instant results, which in turn can hurt your wallet and your body. Obtaining and maintaining a healthy mind and body becomes a lifestyle. Studies have shown that extreme dieting and quick fixes have a much higher risk of relapse. As a personal trainer my goal is to lead by example, which means you’ll see me eat both pizza and steamed veggies. You’ll see me putting in a tough workout one day and then binging a few episodes of my favorite series on Netflix the next. You have plenty of time to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

My advice is this: per week, eat healthy 90% of the time and exercise a minimum of 180 minutes. This roughly equates to 3 – 4 “cheat meals” and four 45-minute workouts per week. Think of this as a challenge and prove to yourself you’ve got what it takes.