Why ‘Functional’ Is The New Black

Summer is not just around the corner, it's standing awkwardly on our front patio, and anybody with the slightest intention of frolicking outside in minimal clothing is looking for the latest method of achieving a body to suit the season. When it comes to working out, there is an overwhelming number of options to send your lunges, muscles and sweat glands into overdrive, especially here in LA.

While the number of gym memberships remain steady, and yoga studios are filling up by the day, it appears that there has also been a rise in the amount of fitness enthusiasts seeking different dimensions to their training, particularly outdoors. More and more people are trying various types of workouts, in hopes of reaching their fitness goals in the most enjoyable and motivating ways possible. This is evident with the emergence of certain apps like Class Pass and Level Sports, which help connect people with a variety of training methods aiming to mix it up.

We are also experiencing an influx in participants of Social Sports such as Flag Football, Beach Volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee to name a few. Organized sports and outdoor group sessions is not only a great way to make new friends and have fun, but is also a excellent way of exercising without it feeling like a chore. The more competitive the games become, the more intense the workouts tend to be and also the demand for athleticism. And so the quest to be more athletic and capable of successfully performing various disciplines is becoming increasingly popular, to the point of even specifically training to prepare for, or to improve at these respective activities.

The desire for people to become more "complete athletes" is apparent with the crossfit boom. Combining weight lifting, with running, bodyweight exercises and plyometrics is not only helping people achieve their fitness goals, but making them feel like more of an athlete, and hence, more competent and powerful in life. Doing more 'functional' exercises at the gym is one way of helping someone become more athletic. For example, many weight training machines are one dimensional, only requiring you to move the resistance through one plane of motion, sometimes only using one joint, such as a leg extension machine. While this might be a great way to bring out the striations in your Rectus Femoris for that upcoming bodybuilding competition, you probably want to do a multi-planar lunge pattern (lunging in front, then to the side and then rotating to lunge diagonally backward) with dumbbells if you want to be better prepared for that weekend flag football match, or just be more athletic in general.

Performing more functional movements not only helps build strength, power and agility to enable us to move more efficiently, but also optimizes injury prevention through enhanced proprioception of joints as we mimic more closely the type of movements we would perform when playing sports or complicated activities.

For the ultimate athletic experience, try performing these more complicated and functional exercises with the added stimulus of catching, passing, or hitting a ball. This now brings into play peripheral vision and hand-eye coordination, which is obviously a big part of most team sports, particularly ball games.

So get with the program this summer and try to incorporate more functional exercises into your workouts. You can still achieve that pool party body you desire while also feeling like an all-conquering athletic badass too!



Posted in Methodology.