In the last post, I introduced you to functional workout routines. The perfect answer to those who say that conventional workouts result in pseudo-strength that doesn’t translate into real-world capability, functional workouts combine strength training with flexibility, agility, and balance training.
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To recap, functional workout routines combine free weight exercises with carefully designed movements that incorporate a large range of joints and muscle groups rather than just one muscle at a time. This results in improved coordination and physical capacity for everyday tasks rather than just surface-level body image enhancement alone.
Functional workout routines are especially important for individuals who find that their range of motion has decreased over time. When carrying in the groceries or maintaining the home becomes burdensome, a functional workout regimen can be just the answer.
According to Porcari, Ph.D., the director of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s clinical exercise physiology program, functional workouts make much better sense than conventional workouts that don’t always translate into real-life potency. “It’s similar to a professional golfer who specifies his training to the actual golf swing, making sure that movement is as fast and strong as it can be,” he said. “Most of the exercises that athletes perform are geared specifically to the demands of their sport. It should be the same for adults, catering to the demands of everyday life.”
In a study cited by ConsumerReports.org that was authored by Dr. Porcari, the benefits of functional workouts were evaluated.
“In a small study that was sponsored a few years ago by the American Council on Exercise, older adults who followed a functional-exercise program for four weeks experienced greater improvements than those who did a traditional strength routine. They improved their shoulder flexibility by 43 percent, significantly increased their lower- and upper-body strength, and improved their agility and balance. Several participants reported they found it easier to ‘reach for things’ or had ‘better balance.’ One woman said it was easier to look over her shoulder while backing up a car.”
If you are interested in exploring the benefits of functional workout routines, the best plan is to enlist the assistance of a knowledgeable trainer or professional who can advise you on how to balance conventional strength training with functional workouts, since the advantages of both are increased when working in conjunction with one another.