Just because the fitness industry changes every year doesn’t mean the basics change.
In the last few years, fitness professionals have embraced different styles of training that implement more functional movements and challenge the body in different ways.
Functional training focuses on improving everyday movements by eliminating muscular compensations and improving posture.
Below are some exercises that are essential in improving the body’s balance because they require full-body activation, which means that the entire body is working to exert and support the movement.
The squat and deadlift
The squat, known for the strengthening of the glutes, hamstrings and quads, and the deadlift, which focuses on the glutes, hamstrings and upper back, are common exercises that many people assume are exercises for great butt gains.
Although this may be true, the squat and deadlift have many other benefits. The average person sits for 13 hours and sleeps for eight, which means they are sedentary for about 21 hours. Sitting puts an individual’s hip flexors in a prolonged flexed position, which results in tightness. Because of the lack of glute and hamstring activation, those muscle groups become weak or atrophied over time.
This overcompensation can result in back pain, ITB band tightness, etc. Both exercises require flexing the glutes by pushing the hips slightly past a neutral position. Essentially, this motion strengthens the glutes and opens up the hips.
Sitting also causes most people to round their shoulders and push their necks forward. Deadlifts, on the other hand, also help to strengthen the upper back because a strong posture is required for the entire motion.
The pushup requires most of the body to maintain a plank position. More importantly, pushups strengthen the chest, triceps, shoulders and core.
The core consists of every muscle that protects the spine. As someone lowers their body while doing a pushup, they must maintain their overall body position. The joints that should be moving are the shoulder and elbow.
Pullups are unique because, although the dominant muscle groups being worked are the back muscles and biceps, they also activate other areas to support the body; it’s a multi-joint movement.
Considering that most people do not move, a multi-joint movement like a pullup can be very beneficial because it activates muscles that aren’t normally activated.
The farmer’s walk isn’t a popular exercise, but it is very functional.
A person would grab two weights and hold one with each hand. With a strong posture, he/she/they would begin to walk for a designated amount of time. This type of exercise really replicates carrying groceries. Many people hurt their backs or shoulders picking things up and/or cannot carry the weight that needs to be carried. The farmer’s walk strengthens your overall posture and your grip.
These are just a few exercises that have great benefits. By practicing these and advancing, an individual will notice great change not only in how they feel, but in how they move.
It is important that these exercises are done correctly. Seek a professional for proper instruction and technique.
Megan Niño is a kinesiologist and personal trainer through her business, Vigor Vida Fitness & Wellness. She is an energetic and positive person who prides herself on teaching others to find empowerment in their lives through fitness. She trains her clients out of Optimal Sports Club and offers in-home training in Philadelphia and on the Main Line.