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Developing balance and neuro muscular control will make you more confident in all of your activities. Imagine feeling stable and sure of your step as you walk, run or jump. See your body as the efficient machine it is meant to be, sending messages up and down your spinal column, allowing every muscle and cell to react quickly and precisely. No matter your fitness level or goals, you will benefit from functional fitness training. From couch potato to elite athlete, you deserve optimal performance from your body. Functional Training means that you are working out using motions that you use in your daily activities. Instead of attempting to isolate muscles, use compound exercises where more than one joint/muscle group is being used. As you increase the time you are working in this manner, your neuro muscular communication can only increase. This means a more functional body for you!
- Determine your fitness level: These are general guidelines to help you in planning your fitness program. Realize, these categories can be subjective. Use your mind, and listen to your body, be honest with yourself.
- Beginners: You're a beginner if you are brand new to working out or if you have been out of the loop for a bit and are just starting back up with a fitness routine.If either of those statements are true of you, stick with the beginner workout. You'll gain a fantastic foundation for your workouts. You'll discover proper form and effective workouts.Learning this way will guide you to your fitness goals in a safe way. You'll avoid injury and be closer to your ideal body with every workout.Congratulations and welcome to the road to health and fitness.
- Intermediates: You have been working out for quite some time now, at least 6 months to 2 years consistently, 3x plus per week. You have your form down, and are challenging yourself in your workouts. Knowing form is key in avoiding injury and increasing intensity in your workouts allows you to improve your fitness level. Your consistent hard work is paying and you enjoy trying new exercises.
- Advanced: You have been working out for at least 2 years, consistently, 4-6x/week. Your fitness regimen is part of your daily planning. It has become a part of who you are. Your workouts are intense, using your time efficiently. Form and function are at the top of your list when planning your workouts, or working with a trainer, coach, partner, etc. You continually challenge yourself further improving, strength, balance, agility, and neuro muscular control. Our bodies are amazing, we can do much more than our minds allow us to believe. You are breaking through the mind and challenging your body.
- Discover where you like to workout and how: That's right, you are going to want to find something you enjoy doing in order to stick with your workouts, no matter your fitness level. You've got plenty of choices, take the time to try them and find what's right for you.
- At home : Is the gym intimidating? Maybe it's just too far out of the way. Or perhaps you just don't like the idea of having to go somewhere to get your workouts in. As long as you've got an area about as big as a yoga mat, you can do an at home workout.
- The Gym: Are you a gym lover? Do you just love the atmosphere, the equipment, the shared energy of others going to get their fitness in? Maybe you enjoy putting on your headphones and zoning out at the gym for some time to yourself to focus on fitness. Whatever the draw, some folks love heading to the gym. Be sure to take advantage of trial memberships when choosing a facility. Not all gyms have the same atmosphere. Decide what you want in a club and check some out in your area.
- Specialty Facility: Group Fitness Classes are a great way to commit to your workout. You can find Zumba, Crossfit, Boot Camps, Yoga, Pilates, Rock Climbing, Ice Skating, etc. These are excellent ways to get in a specific type of workout. Again, try the activities and make sure you can get up the intensity you need, and find something enjoyable.
- One-on-One or Small Group Training: Employ a personal trainer for yourself or a small group of friends or co-workers. This is a great way to set concrete goals and work toward them with guidance and accountability. Look for a certified personal trainer in your area.
- The Great Outdoors: Many people enjoy running, biking, skiing, hiking, Obstacle Racing, etc in the great outdoors on their own or with a buddy. Having a workout buddy in the great outdoors is smart practice for you both. Always be prepared, well researching the activities you choose so you know what that means. Mother Nature's Playground has some of the best workout equipment you will find! Climb a mountian, boulder across some rocks, mountain or road bike, hike up and down beautiful landscapes, trail run, snowshoe, cross country ski, etc. Always remember form and safety!
- Try various balance and stability training styles. In order to determine what you will stick with, you'll want to try different types of training. You can start simple and move to more complex moves.
- Suspension Training: This is one of my personal favorites. A suspension trainer engages your core consistently and puts your stability to the test. There are varying Suspension Trainers on the market. You can get one for as little as $30 or as much as $200+! Hint, the $30 one works just as well as the more expensive branded models.
- Single Leg Exercises: Try traditional exercises standing on one leg. For example, do your first set of standing bicep curls standing on your right leg only. Your second set is performed on the left leg. Alternate legs each set. You'll want to tighten up your glutes (butt muscles) and stack the hip, knee, and ankle joints balancing on the front of the heel. Try this with overhead presses, lateral raises, etc.
- Stability Ball Exercises: Use an exercise ball to sit, kneel or stand on while performing weighted exercises using dumbbells or tubing. Again, your core will be engaged and your muscles will have to work to stabilize your body.
- Foam Pads/Inflated Discs: Stand or kneel on a foam bad or inflated disc while doing your favorite exercises. Any form of instability will increase your balance, engage your core muscles, and increase neuro muscular capacity.
- Bosu Ball: This is the half ball you find at the gym or your local sports store. It has a flat platform on one side and a half ball on the other. Choose which side to stand on, and perform your favorite exercises on this. You can also practice standing on one leg to improve balance.
- Sandy Beach: If you are lucky enough to live near the beach, or be on vacation near one, the sand is a great place to workout. You'll enjoy the ocean waves crashing on the shore as you perform push ups, squats, or simply go running. The instability of the sand will challenge your stabilizer muscles, stimulating your nervous system and improving your balance and stability.
- Now that you've got some ideas for functional training, include it in all of your workouts. The more you workout in this fashion, the more you'll improve your balance and neuro muscular control.
- Tighten your core muscles while doing functional training. Core muscles include all of the muscles of the mid-section, i.e. abdominal muscles (front and side), back muscles (low-mid back), and hip muscles (glutes or butt muscles, hip flexors, and inner thighs).
- If you are a beginner, always consult a physician before starting any exercise program.
- Include a 10-15 minute warm up and 10-15 minute cool down within your workouts to protect your body and avoid injury.
Things You'll Need
- At home: an area at least as large as a yoga mat.
- At the gym: a stability ball, bosu ball, foam or inflatable disc/square.
- Outdoors: sand, unstable ground, etc.
- Determination, focus, and commitment
Sources and Citations
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