Train movements, not muscles

The term ‘functional training’ is a buzzword in today’s fitness industry. Unlike spandex thongs and leg warmers however, functional training is here to stay. Simply put, functional training is exercising the body the way it is designed to be used. Functional training results in improved sports performance, strong bones and muscles, enhanced balance and coordination, accelerated weight loss, and an esthetically pleasing body.
To enjoy the benefits of a strong, toned and functional body, you must first break away from the traditional bodybuilding practice of training muscles in isolation. Instead, train your body the way it was designed: to develop force by integrating your muscles into movements. For example, leg extension machine, which targets your quadriceps, has little carry over to becoming a strong soccer player, or improving your ability to walk up a flight of stairs. Real life movements demand the strength and integration of joint movers and stabilizers, from your neck to your toes. Instead of training each separate muscle group (chest, shoulders, biceps, abdominals and so on), train each movement pattern. Three basic movement patterns are pushing, pulling and rotating.
Push movements include pushing upward, forward and downward. In real life, we push when we put things on a high shelf, moving a shopping cart, or jumping up to spike in volleyball. Pushing exercises include push-ups, dumbbell chest press, or a 1-arm cable push, and squats.
Pull movements include pulling towards you, pulling down, or pulling up. Examples include shutting a garage door, or standing up after gardening. Pulling exercises include a standing cable row, and chin-ups, and dead lifts.
Rotational movements occur everyday- while shoulder checking, golfing, or raking leaves. Surprisingly, most gym programs neglect rotational movements. In a training program, you can perform rotation exercises on the cable column or with a medicine ball, or add rotation to a push or pull movement.
Although you may desire to include specific abdominal exercises into your program, a movement based training program will also strengthen your core. Perform movement exercises in standing, or on in an unstable environment such as a stability ball for maximum recruitment of your core stabilizing muscles.
Whether you are training for sport, or everyday life, avoid the temptation to hop on the weight machines to target each muscle group. Instead, train your body the way it was meant to be used and enjoy the benefits of a strong, attractive and functional body.

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