Hey All! Have you met April from Fueling Function? I came across her blog a few months ago and immediately knew that we shared similar views on fitness training: preference for exercises involving multiple muscle groups simultaneously and clean eating principles. This gorgeous brunette shares on her blog fabulous challenging full body workouts and why they work, easy delicious meal recipes and a little bit about herself, including a captivating story of what kept her motivated to work out during a tough emotional time. The focus of her blog is functional training, something I’ve been interested in for a long time. So when April agreed to share her knowledge on my blog, I was thrilled!! Below she talks about what sets functional training apart from traditional weight room exercises along with a few examples. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram to learn more.
Hi Fit in Progress readers!
My name is April and I run a blog called Fueling Function. I’m delighted to be here with you today as Katrina and I share a very similar philosophy for healthy living: let’s streamline it! We all juggle a lot throughout the day, so let’s work healthy and conscious choices into our everyday lives and create lasting habits over the long haul. Today I’m here to share my favorite way to break a sweat and the holy grail of my own fitness journey: functional strength training.
You may not be familiar with the term “functional strength training” but you’ve probably done some functional movements before. The goal of functional strength training is to use your body as a whole rather than isolating one part of it. By recruiting many muscle groups at once, you build adaptable strength and burn some serious calories while you’re at it.
Weight Room to the Real World
I used to do what a lot of us do for exercise: a steady-state run followed by some targeted movements on a weighted machine. Around this time, I was going on a short trip with just a carry-on bag. I remember as we were getting on board, I went to lift up my bag into the overhead compartment and it was really really difficult! Confidence shot, I thought to myself “I do bicep curls all the time, why is this so hard?” and the reason was because the strength I had was not very functional.
That’s because you don’t just use your biceps to lift up a suitcase, you use your shoulders, you engage your core, and you might even need to recruit some back strength if it’s really heavy! So repetitions on a stationary machine were mostly just growing my biceps—they weren’t training my body functionally.
How I Train Nowadays
I see the value of stationary weight machines for people with joint issues or those who want to target specific muscles/muscle groups—but I don’t really use them anymore. Instead, I enjoy tools like free weights, kettlebells, stability balls, and resistance bands.
These tools not only help you become stronger, they also help improve your balance, coordination, and range of motion: all important and often overlooked aspects of optimizing your performance.
Additionally, training properly with these tools can help prevent injuries. We have a system of stability muscles, joints, and connective tissue that support the big whigs (our glutes, hammies, chest, etc.) By using functional tools like the ones I mentioned, we work our major muscle groups as we would on a machine BUT we also strengthen the smaller stabilizer muscles that support the whole system.
If you’d like to learn more about functional strength or see some of my favorite movements, I share functional strength tips (and meal prep recipes!) on my blog. I’m going to leave you with a couple full-body movements that integrate cardio benefits, strength training, and core engagement all at once! Best of all, all you’ll need for these a pair of dumbbells. I recommend using a weight that challenges you.
Love this movement; it looks like a shoulder workout but you will be surprised how well it targets your core.
Start on the ground with your hands shoulder-width apart gripping the dumbbells and your feet slightly wider apart.
Alternating arms, pull one dumbbell right back to your rib cage while maintaining a stable, rigid trunk.
Repeat on the opposite arm, performing 30-second sets.
NARROW PRESS TO PUSH-UP
This is a blood-pumping “flow” of three sequential movements: a shoulder press, a burpee, and a pushup.
Begin standing nice and tall with dumbbells at your sides. Raise the dumbbells directly above your head then and lower them purposefully.
Lower dumbbells all the way to the ground and shoot back your legs while still gripping the dumbbells.
To really challenge yourself here, add in a tricep push-up then scoop back to your feet for another one.
Try for 2 sets of 10.
Happy training everyone!
Now your turn: Have you tried functional training? What type of workouts do you enjoy the most? Anything you tried that didn’t work for you?
Have a great week and I’ll be back soon with a fantastic Herb Turkey Meatloaf recipe that’s now my favorite way to use up Organic ground turkey meat loads I get from Costco 🙂