Top 6 Functional Fitness Tips
Functional fitness is all the rage right now so it’s important to know what you’re doing to make your experience worthwhile. Here are my top 6 success tips to ensure you are getting the most out of your functional fitness experience and the long term results you deserve.
1. Mobility Work
Be sure to do some serious mobility work on your ankles, hips, thoracic spine and shoulders. These joints are the ones that need to be free, it'll help your squat, your lunges, your hip hinge all your push and pull work as well as any lateral and rotational work that you do. Read more in tip 4.
2. Activate Your Glutes
These bad boys are like bears in the winter. They wanna sleep and hibernate all day (mainly because you sit down too much, but that’s another topic all together!) Believe me, if you learn how to fire your glutes, that sleepy bear will become the powerhouse that gets you more than just the booty of your dreams. It'll make you lean and strong all over, as well as reducing your risk of back, hip and knee injuries!
3. Learn How To Hip Hinge (Properly!)
Once those glutes have been activated, there’s one very important movement pattern to learn, the hip hinge. This is the one you’re gonna need for heaps of your kettle bell exercises,such as deadlifts, swings, cleans and snatches. If you don't know what a hip hinge is, chances are you are squatting when you do any of these movements and believe me, you’re probably doing enough variations on a squat in your sessions, not to mention all the sitting you do in day to day life. This will result in your quads getting tight and your hips, knees and back being a sore.
4. Move in All Planes of Motion
Make sure you are moving in all planes of motion with and without load. Right now you’re probably jumping, lunging, squatting, pushing and pulling. Maybe even hinging (hopefully), but make sure you are also moving and resisting motion laterally (frontal plane) and in rotation (transverse plane). The body needs to know how to do this and do it well. Life exists in a 3D sphere and so should your training. Theres so much you can do when you start to move in these planes and this will ensure your training is not only more functional but more fun.
5. Use Tools
Just remember, tools don't make an exercise functional. Just because you’re now using ropes, kettlebells TRX and sleds, it doesn't make the session, exercise or movement pattern functional. It’s how you use these tools that determines the functionality of your training. So be sure your trainer is cueing your technique and improving the way you move. If your quads, chest and shoulders are always sore and tight but you don't feel your glutes, hamstrings or lats working, then maybe you need a new trainer!
6. Interval Training
Sweat doesn't necessarily mean a smart workout. Anyone can get their heart rate up, but can you get it up for a long period of time and keep great technique in all movements with and without load through all planes of motion? The likely answer is “no”! This is because at some point your technique falters under fatigue. Of course it does, the brain and body need to rest and recover so you don't get yourself injured.
The point of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is that there is a ‘down’ as well as an up. The body responds well to shock and variability, when you let your heart rate drop then spike it again, in a proper HIIT session, you are shocking the body into burning more fat than if you were to simply keep your heart rate up the whole time. So yes, some hardcore sweating is fun, but if you think it’s the very best way to get the results you want, you need to have a re-think!