Monday, July 9, 2012

Functional Exercise Series

Currently, the focus in fitness is on functional exercise.  As a trainer, I have had to learn hundreds of exercises with at least as many variations to make them harder or easier.  The fact remains, however, that in order to do what makes us happy, whether that's sailing or strolling or roller blading or cycling, we need some exercises that will encourage what we call "functional strength"; the kind of strength and coordination that comes from utilizing exercises that work multiple parts of your body in concert, to increase stabilization, power from your core, and better performance during your chosen activity.

With that in mind, let's start to examine some possible functional exercises that most of us can do.  We will look at a different one each week to start building a repertoire that you can follow.

1. Medicine ball squat with overhead lift

Functionality: Even though you lift things — like groceries, your kids, and other objects primarily with your arms, your legs and back are also key players. This exercise strengthens your legs, glutes (butt), lower back, arms and shoulders.

Stand with your feet wide, holding a light medicine ball in front of you in both hands. Squat down moving your rear back (like you are sitting in a chair), keeping your knees over your ankles and lower the medicine ball to the floor while keeping your head up and back straight, with your shoulders down and back, and your chest lifted. Return to a start position and lift the medicine ball up over your head. Repeat squat and lower ball to the ground. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions, and increase the weight of the ball as you get stronger.

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