Four Exercises You Should Always Include in Your Functional Training Routine
Practising this type of physical activity on a regular basis is part of a healthy lifestyle.
Practising any kind of sport on a regular basis is always a highly recommended activity because exercise brings a wealth of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health benefits. However, most training is focused on achieving a specific goal: gaining muscle, losing weight, or increasing strength or stamina.
Functional training does not belong to this category because, as Francisco Payán, Fitness Supervisor at SHA Wellness Clinic, tells us, ‘It does not focus on a specific muscle group, but works the body as a whole. Unlike traditional training, which is based on movements that we hardly ever do in everyday life and is usually divided into areas (one day, pectorals, and the next, the lower body), functional training is inspired by common movements that we do naturally in our daily lives, such as sitting, bending, climbing stairs, or carrying shopping bags’.
Functional training is a medium-intensity exercise that can be adapted to any age and fitness level. It is therefore the perfect choice for people who are not looking for a specific goal, such as losing weight, but simply want to feel good and be healthy. Another of its advantages is that it can be practised both in the gym and outdoors and involves equipment, such as bosu balls, fitballs, or mini trampolines, to make the session more enjoyable and fun.
Among its many benefits, Francisco highlights that ‘It provides a greater range of joint flexibility, improves body posture and motor skills, provides agility, coordination and balance, and reduces the likelihood of injury. And, of course, like any other sport, it speeds up metabolism and weight loss, tones muscles, relieves stress and promotes restful sleep. As I always say, exercise is the best medicine’.
The four most common functional exercises are:
–Squats: Spread your legs shoulder-width apart and squat down as low as possible, bending your legs and keeping your back straight. Then, come back up.
-Push-ups: Lying face down on the floor, place your hands shoulder-width apart and spread your fingers for better support. Straighten your body and slowly descend, bending your elbows backwards and outwards. Come back up, extending your elbows.
-Pull-ups: Hang from a bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, and try to lift your body weight until your chin is over the bar, keeping your elbows close to your torso. Then, slowly lower your body.
-Jumping: Jump rope or go up and down steps jumping with both legs at the same time.
One last piece of advice from Francisco: ‘For functional training to be effective, the session should last between 30 minutes and an hour, including a warm-up and final stretching. If you do a circuit of five or six exercises, I recommend finishing with a cardio activity to complete the routine’.
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