FUNdamental exercises

By Jenn McCracken

This past week I had a friend from work contact me and give me the news every fitness professional wants to hear, “I am ready to start working out again.” She explained to me that her body isn’t where she wants it to be. What once were easy daily tasks have now become something that requires extreme amounts of effort. Furthermore, the increased demands on her body have led to injury and nagging pain.

After talking with her about the plan, we decided that hiring a personal trainer to focus on functional fitness is where she needed to start. Without functional fitness training, people’s quality of life diminishes. Pushing the grocery cart around the store now feels like pushing a boulder up Petit Jean Mountain. Getting up out of your office chair to grab a copy from the printer now seems as if you are trying to swim your way out of quicksand.

If any of these things sound like something you are struggling with, I encourage you to get back to the basics of exercise. Functional fitness will focus on improving muscle strength and stability to help you easily move through common daily tasks. Furthermore, this type of workout will focus mainly on movements that will enhance everyday life rather than emphasizing performance-based exercises that improve speed, strength, and/or agility. Personal trainers help with this process so that you will not undertrain or overtrain, thus setting you up for greater success sooner.

Below are some of my favorite types of exercises to do for functional fitness. As with any exercise, I encourage you to get a doctor’s consent or hire a professional before starting any program.

1. Squats

Advanced – squatting while holding dumbbells in each hand.

Modification – squatting while holding on to a chair or handrail.

2. Lunges

Advanced– walking lunges with or without a dumbbell.

Modification – lunges performed while holding onto a chair or handrail.

3. Push-ups

Advanced – pushing up from the ground with hands placed directly under the shoulders.

Modification – pushing away from a wall in standing position facing the wall.

4. Deadlift

Advanced – single leg deadlift holding dumbbells in each hand.

Modification – lifting a light weight or no weight at all during exercise.

5. Step-ups

Advanced – stepping up while holding dumbbells or doing an overhead press.

Modification – stepping up while holding on to a chair or handrail.