Biomechanically Fit | Creating Smart Fitness Solutions

Biomechanically Fit

Creating Smart Fitness Solutions

Functional, Practical, Useful

These words describe functional training.  Functional training involves exercises that mimic your everyday life.  Your life may involve playing with the kids or your favorite sport.  In order to become more efficient when performing these activities you need to train that way.  You can stop going to the gym and start working out at home or outside.  Functional training doesn’t involve expensive equipment with TV’s and a place to sit down while you move your legs up and down.  

The human body follows the SAID Principle.  What SAID stands for is Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.  In simple terms, this principle says that the body will get better at whatever it does.  So if your focus is training body movements you will become better and more efficient at those over time.  If you train lying on a bench and pressing a bar off your chest, you will become more efficient at just that.  With that said if you train or move with poor form your body will get better at moving incorrectly.  This will lead into injury, pain and poor performance.  So train smart. 


Traditional weight training focuses on building strength and increasing the size of a muscle by isolating a particular muscle group.  Typically with traditional strength training you are sitting, lying or standing while performing the exercise.  There is usually no balance, or coordination involved.  These workouts tend to take more time since only a couple muscle groups are trained during each workout. 


Functional training is about training the movement and not the muscle. With functional training you will focus on: strength, balance, flexibility, coordination and speed by standing, squatting, bending, twisting, lifting and moving.  When training movements you will become more efficient at that particular movement.  You will also become stronger and increase your muscle mass. 


Who can benefit from functional training?

Anyone can benefit from functional training.  Non exercisers, Weekday warriors, weekend warriors, elite athletes, manual labors, and seniors can all benefit from functional training.


Non exercisers

Even if you have not exercised in many years or at all, you can still benefit from functional training.  Training this way is a good starting point for one to start with.  You will give your body a chance to re-learn movements that you haven’t done in a long time.  Not only will you re-learn movements but you will become stronger and more efficient throughout everyday activities.


Weekday warriors

Even if you exercise 5 days a week but don’t challenge the body with different activities you can increase the chance of injury.  You’re on the right path of improving your fitness but you can still take it to the next level.  For example maybe you’re someone who only runs or does the cardio class at the gym, over time your body gets very efficient at performing those activities which will place stress on only those joints involved.  Instead try mixing up your exercises and routines.  This will make you become more balanced.  Remember too much of one activity or exercise will increase your chance of injury. 


Weekend Warriors

Not working out all week and then performing to the highest level on Saturday morning is not a good way to increase your fitness.  I know some say any exercise is better than none but performing at 100% with no fitness base built up, you are just waiting for an injury to occur.  Instead perform some functional exercises during the week.   This will not only help you perform better during the weekends but also reduce your chance of injury. 

 

Elite Athletes

Once you have reached a certain level of performance, you have to find other ways of training to keep you ahead of the game.  This includes adding functional training to your regimen.  Functional training will mimic more athletic movements than your traditional strength and power movements, which are still very important.   

 

Manual labors

Functional training can be very beneficial to these types of workers.  Since most of these jobs have a repetitive motion or movement patterns.  This could make one part or side of the body really strong and the other weak.  Once the body is out of balance there is a higher chance of injury.  Since functional training will allow you to strengthen your weaknesses, this would then allow your body to become balanced. 

 

Seniors

As you get older daily activities seem to get harder.  With adding in functional training you will be able to do your daily activities with ease.  Just because your getting older doesn’t mean you have to feel like it. 


Through functional training you will be able to strengthen the body as a whole and reduce any pains that you may be feeling.  If you already have aches and pains, you may have given up certain activities because of the pain they cause.  Once you stop moving your body, it tightens up and you will actually increase your pain.  The human body is suppose to move.  Without movement we are useless.


Example of beginner functional training program

Before starting any type of exercise plan you should check with your doctor to make sure you are capable without any chance of injury.  Also never push through pain.  It’s common to work with or through pain to achieve your goals.  Unless your job demands you to push through pain, it’s not recommended.  The reason for functional training is to eliminate pain and perform better.  If you are starting to experience pain, slow down the movements and or decrease the range of motion. 


Warm Up

Now it’s time to start your functional training program.  Before just jumping right in, a warm up needs to take place.  A proper warm should consist of 10-15 minutes of getting the body warm and the muscles and joints ready to go.  In order to do this I prefer using a foam roller and performing some joint mobility exercises. If running short on time I prefer just doing joint mobility exercises instead of both.   


Foam Rolling

The myofascial tissues targeted by the foam roller include the muscles (myo) and the connective tissues (fascia) that connect your muscles to each other.
  When performing exercises using the foam roller, find a tight muscle and roll back and forth on that muscle until it has loosened.  There may be some pain during when performing these exercises but this is normal and as the muscle loosens up the pain will subside.  If the pain doesn’t subside stop the exercise. 



Foam Roller Examples

IT Band (Iliotibial band)

  • Lie on your side placing the foam roller under your leg.  Brace your upper body by placing your forearm on the ground.
  • Keep your body straight while rolling across the form roller.
  • Once you feel a sore or tight spot, stop on that area until discomfort goes away and then move on.
  • Foam roll for 1-2 minutes and then repeat on other side.


Glutes (Piriformis)

  • Sit on top of foam roller.  Cross one leg on top of other leg if you can.  If not just place both feet on the ground.
  • Roll your weight onto one side of your butt.  Keep your upper body straight.  Once you feel a sore or tight spot, stop on that area until discomfort goes away and then move on.
  • Foam roll for 1-2 minutes and then repeat on other side.


Joint Mobility

These exercises/ movements are used to re-educate your central nervous system with your body by rebuilding coordination, agility, and movement efficiency.

Once you start performing them, you will see improvement in posture, increased fitness performance and pains starting to go away. 


Joint Mobility Examples

Ankle Circles

  • Toes Pulled UP
  • Place feet straight in front of you.  Keep your body relaxed and push heels into ground and push head towards the ceiling.
  • Bring shoulder back, and bring hips into a neutral position.
  • Lift one leg up, staying relaxed, point toes up and perform clockwise and counterclockwise circles. 
  • Keep toes pointed up through the whole motion.  Perform them slowly. 
  • Switch legs and repeat.


Training

There are many different pieces of equipment you can use to perform functional training exercises.  Some of my favorite are; Body weight, TRX, Kettle Bells, Medicine Balls and Resistance Bands. If you’re on a budget when purchasing equipment the best two pieces for your money are kettlebells and Trx.


Lunge and reach

  • Place feet in a split stance.  Keep back straight. 
  • Lower your body slowly by bending the knees while keeping 70% of your weight on your front foot.
  • Keep your shoulders level and rotate towards the leg in front of you.
  • Come back up into starting position and repeat.  Then switch legs. 


Medicine Ball

Bend down, Pick up

  • Place feet straight in front of you.  Keep your body relaxed and push heels into ground and push head towards the ceiling.
  • Bring shoulder back, and bring hips into a neutral position.
  • Hold medicine ball in front of body. 
  • Squat down, touch ball on ground, stand back up and raise ball over head.


Kettlebell

Farmers walk

  • Hold kettle bell in one hand.
  • Bring shoulder back, and bring hips into a neutral position.
  • Start walking, while keeping shoulders level, and hips under your body. 
  • Walk for 10 yards and switch hands.


Cool Down

After completing a workout there is still one thing that needs to be done and that is performing a cool down.  Stretching is one component of a cool down.  This is usually left out but it could be an important part of your training.  Usually everyone has at least one overly tight muscle on their body that could be stretched out.  Although one should realize that too much stretching could actually have negative effects.  You could also perform joint mobility exercises or just walk for 5 minutes.  


When stretching, your focus should be on stretching the muscle back to its original length.  By keeping your muscles stretched this will prevent injuries, improves posture and make daily living actives easier.    

 

The basics of stretching:

Hold each stretch for upper body muscles for 10-15 seconds.

Hold each stretch for lower body muscles for 15-30 seconds.

Break 15-20 seconds in between stretching same muscle.

Stretch to slight tension and make sure there is no pain.

Make each stretch controlled with no bouncing.


Stretches

Kneeling Hip Flexor

  • Place the legs into a lunge position.
  • Keep back straight and rotate hips forward, placing a stretch on the leg that is on the ground.
  • Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch legs.  You can repeat this exercise two to three times.


Standing Hamstring/ Chest Stretch

  • Have feet shoulders width apart.
  • Place hands on the buttocks.
  • Keep legs straight and pull elbows towards each other and lower upper body to the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat one to two times.