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posted: 8/19/2013 6:00 AM

Functional training can add impact, challenge to your workout

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  • Walking lunge with twist

      Walking lunge with twist

  • Pushup to twist

      Pushup to twist

 

Is your current exercise routine specific to your needs? Are the exercises helping or hindering you? Are you getting results? These are all questions worth asking yourself when assessing or re-evaluating your workouts.

No matter what your goals are, training in a functional manner will maximize your results and reward you with a body trained to take on anything life throws at you.

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Functional training can be described as working your body as a unit -- as it's meant to move, rather than isolating specific muscles. For example, rather than sitting on a shoulder press machine and pressing a secured bar overhead at a fixed angle, try deadlifting two dumbbells off the floor, curling them and then pressing them overhead. The latter exercise will be much more effective at challenging stability, balance and flexibility. By taking on a functional mindset, you're training for everyday mobility and teaching your body to move more efficiently.

A great way to start adding functional exercises to your workout routine is to get off your butt -- meaning get on your feet. If you're sitting or lying on machines for most of your workout, learn how to perform the same exercise on your feet or hands or a combination of both. Rather than doing a lying chest press, try any variation of the pushup instead. Instead of performing a seated leg extension on a machine, try some walking lunges or a barbell squat. These movements will force your core to work in an effort to support your body and posture rather than relying on the bench or seat for support.

If your workout is centered around machines, incorporate the following exercises to improve your functional movement patterns.

Dead lift to overhead press. Place a dumbbell on the floor between your feet. With feet shoulder width apart, squat down and grasp the dumbbell. With a flat back and tight core, begin to stand up while curling the dumbbell to shoulder height. As you continue to stand to an upright position, press the dumbbell overhead. Repeat for desired number of reps and repeat with the other arm.

Walking lunge with rotation. Take hold of a medicine ball and extend your arms out in front of you. Step forward with your left leg and lunge down until you have a 90 degree bend at both knees. While you're dropping into the lunge, rotate your torso to the left so your arms rotate across your left leg. As you step out of the lunge and back to a standing position, rotate the ball back to midline so your arms are straight out in front of you. Now step forward with the right foot, rotating your torso to the right. Repeat for desired number of reps while you move forward across the floor.

Pushup to twist. Assume a pushup position with chest positioned directly above your hands. Drop down to the bottom of the pushup in a controlled manner as you inhale. Exhale as you push back to the top and as your arms lock out, raise your right hand off the floor and rotate your shoulders while reaching toward the ceiling. Return to your starting point and repeat on the left side. You can also perform this exercise from your knees if this variation is too challenging.

So add some functionality to your workouts and you'll immediately feel the difference. For more exercise and nutrition tips, visit our website at PushFitnessTraining.com for links to our Facebook and Pinterest pages.

• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.

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