Functional Fitness - Virtua

This Functional Fitness Workout Makes Every Day Easier

You go to the gym to lift weights or do cardio exercises, but you may not think about how you use your body and muscles every day.

Functional fitness uses exercises made up of combined moves that work multiple muscle groups. According Virtua Fitness Center certified strength and conditioning specialist Al Cianfrini, functional fitness exercises aren’t about getting stronger or faster. They’re for making sure you can perform everyday activities more easily. This becomes especially important as you age, allowing you to maintain and improve the range of motion you need throughout the day.

Cianfrini recommends the following easy exercises to improve your functional fitness:

Trunk Twist: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended out from the shoulders. Bend and twist reaching your hand toward the opposite foot. Straighten and repeat.

Planks: Lie face down, and keep your elbows tucked under your shoulders and your toes pointed straight. Push up to your elbows and lift your body so that it’s aligned straight like a table top from your shoulders to ankles. Hold in place and keep your core lifted. Remember to keep your butt and hips tucked forward to keep you from arching your back.

Overhead Press: Stand with a pair of dumbbells or a kettlebell held at your chest-line. Extend your arms up, as though you were reaching to place something on a high shelf, and bring them back down to chest level. Repeat.

Kettlebell Thruster: Hold a kettlebell upside down and close to your chest. Do a squat, making sure that your knees don’t go past your toes, and push your hips back like your sitting in a chair. On the way back up, do an overhead press.

Single Leg Deadlift: Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Keep one leg straight as you bend at the waist letting your arms hang in front of your legs, and raise the other leg up until the weights are about mid-calf. Lift up slowly keeping your back straight and core tight and repeat on the other side.

Power Lunges: Step forward until your legs are a comfortable distance apart. Bend your front leg until your thigh is parallel with the ground. Keep your back straight and your torso balanced between your front foot and back foot. Make sure your front knee doesn’t go past your toes. This is a standard exercise that works the legs, hamstrings, glutes and quads. To add more muscle groups, use your dumbbells and perform a bicep curl at the bottom of each lunge.

Cable Single-Arm Back Row: Most gyms have a simple pulley and weight system. Grab the handle and place it between your chest and hip area. Lower yourself into a seated position, controlling your core and posture, then row with one hand. Repeat on the other side.

Bosu Ball Squats: Place the Bosu Ball platform side down, and stand on the rounded side. Hold a medicine ball and try performing a squat. The unstable surface forces you to balance while working your core and stabilizer muscles.

Remember, these exercises are all about maintaining proper form. It's recommended to consult with a personal trainer before attempting any of these exercises.

Updated March 15, 2017

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