There is nothing new with regards to functional exercises. They have been around for years...they just have a new "cool" name that everyone likes. What is new is that more and more people are incorporating these movements into their programs.
Due to the fact that functional exercises recruit more muscle and energy input your ability to lift more weight, and as a result gain more strength, increases. For example, if you think of doing a barbell curl to target your biceps, if you are a male, you might lift something in the neighbourhood of 80 pounds? Now think of doing pull-ups. When you perform a pull-up you will be lifting all your body weight. Maybe 180-200 pounds!
While your biceps are not isolated, they will get much stronger much quicker performing a exercise like this. Same goes for any functional exercise. I personally don't think of functional movements as anything special or unique. For me they are the foundation of my training program and I would recommend that everyone do the same.
Isolation exercises very rarely make their way into my training regime. Unless you are a professional body builder I think they are virtually pointless. Think of a movement that only pivots around one joint an isolation exercise. If you are performing a lot of movements like this it is time to make a change.
With that begin said here are my favourite exercises to gain strength, muscle, and burn fat. Ladies...yes these look like "big" lifts and you might be thinking I don't want to get big. Don't worry you won't. If you want to get lean, strong, with great muscular definition start doing these!
Want a conditioning workout? Try performing 5 sets at 15 reps at about 40-50% of your 1 rep max. Maybe have a bucket close by!
There a few iterations of deadlifts. And while I think your traditional deadlift is the best, find which one you prefer the most and stick to it. If you love romanian's go for it!
3. Standing Barbell Press.
An added bonus of using a barbell is that I find it is easier to maintain a more neutral shoulder position. This means your elbows are not flared not to the side of your body and are rather pointed a little more inwards. Trust me your shoulders will thank you.
If you cannot performing a pull-up right now start by doing assisted pull-ups. You can do this either with a rubber band or a machine that helps lift you up. Another thing you can try is performing negative pull-ups. This means jumping up to the top of the pull-up position and slowly lowering yourself down. At the bottom let go and jump back up to repeat the exercise.
5. 1 Arm Rows.
This is one of the absolute best exercises for training your back. Far too many people, especially dudes, walk into the gym, blast there pecs, and walk out. Their backs get the short end of the stick and this is a mistake. Your back is a far more important muscle in everyday life. Think about how many times you perform a "bench press" type movement in the real world.
DO NOT forget about your back!
Start performing some, or better yet all, of these exercises into your weekly training schedule. Your strength will go up, your ability to burn fat will improve, and you will look and feel like a million bucks!
What are some of your favourite exercises?
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