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Functional exercises simultaneously use multiple muscles and joints to improve muscular endurance, overall strength, coordination, balance, posture and agility. A functional fitness workout is challenging, effective and fun full-body workout designed to prepare your body for everyday activities.
You can be well toned and muscular, but still not be ready to face everyday tasks like reaching for heavy items from a high shelf, lifting your 3-year-old in and out of the car seat, or carrying heavy items up a set of stairs. Functional fitness offers a way to get your body in shape for whatever real life throws its way.
Start incorporating these five exercises into your routine and you’re sure to see an improvement in your everyday strength.
Knee lift with lateral raise
Why: Improves balance and core strength, and strengthens/tones shoulders
How: Stand tall with a 5-pound weight in each hand, arms at your sides. Lift your right knee until it reaches hip level as you lift your arms out to the side to form a T at your shoulders. Hold the position for two seconds, keeping your belly button pulled in. Lower your arms and leg to the start position. Repeat 10 - 15 times with each leg. As you get stronger, increase the weights in your hands.
Stair climb with curls
Why: Climbing stairs is a natural part of life, and stairs are easy to find almost anywhere. Adding bicep curls helps you build your ability to carry things up stairs, and adds to the cardiovascular element of this exercise.
How: Stand at the bottom of a flight of stairs holding a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in each hand. As you climb the stairs, perform bicep curls. Run back down the stairs without doing curls, then repeat the climb up 5 – 10 times. As your arms get stronger, increase the dumbbell weight. If it gets too easy, take two steps at a time and speed up your climb.
Medicine ball squat and lift
Why: Strengthens your legs, glutes, lower back, shoulders and arms so you can better lift heavy objects.
How: Hold a light medicine ball in front of you with both hands and stand with your feet wide apart. Squat down, moving your rear back, keeping your knees over your ankles. Lower the medicine ball to the floor, keeping your head up and back straight. Return to the start position and lift the medicine ball over your head as you stand tall. Repeat the action in three sets of 10 repetitions. As you get stronger, use a heavier ball.
Diagonal medicine ball reach
Why: Work all the muscles you use regularly as you lift and lower items from overhead.
How: Stand tall, holding a medicine ball with both hands close to your chest. Lift the medicine ball diagonally overhead to the right, straightening your arms, and extend your left leg to the side, making a diagonal line from the medicine ball to your toes. Lower the ball and your leg to the start position. Repeat 10 - 15 times on each side with each leg. Build to heavier medicine balls and add ankle weights as you get stronger.
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