Func­tion­al Fit­ness: 5 Essen­tial Exer­cis­es That Will Pre­pare You for Your Every­day Chal­lenges

Func­tion­al Fit­ness: 5 Essen­tial Exer­cis­es That Will Pre­pare You for Your Every­day Chal­lenges

We’ve all been there: After a long day at work you’ve bare­ly man­aged to go gro­cery shop­ping and run the basic errands. You don’t even remem­ber the way home and now you’re faced with the last chal­lenge of the day: climb­ing the stairs to your apart­ment, while bal­anc­ing two full bags of gro­ceries. Sud­den­ly the 30 steps look more like the Kil­i­man­jaro and not like a sim­ple stair­well. You take in a deep breath and start the ago­niz­ing climb and after a few min­utes that feel like hours, you’ve final­ly reached your apart­ment. Now that you’re grasp­ing for air, you’re won­der­ing if life real­ly has to be this hard? News­flash: it doesn’t!

Peo­ple who exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly and pre­pare them­selves with sim­ple exer­cis­es for their every­day chal­lenges, will most like­ly still be a lit­tle out of breath, but prob­a­bly not feel like they’ve climbed a moun­tain. So we’ve put togeth­er five easy func­tion­al exer­cis­es select­ed from Valerie Bönström’s and Katha­ri­na Brinkmann’s book about func­tion­al train­ing. With Func­tion­al Train­ing für Frauen they’ve cre­at­ed an acces­si­ble and easy to under­stand guide that helps any­one to pre­pare their body for their unique every­day chal­lenges.

 

1. Mobi­liz­ing the spine in table­top posi­tion

This exer­cise is also a pop­u­lar yoga warm-up as it slow­ly eas­es the body into the work­out. 

You’re in table­top posi­tion. Knees are in align­ment with the hips, hands are aligned with the shoul­ders. The toes are curled under your feet and you look toward the floor, while you length­en your spine.

Now, try to pull your bel­ly but­ton toward your spine and there­by move your pelvis for­ward. Smooth­ly round your spine and move your chin toward your chest in order to cre­ate even more length in your spine.

After this, move in the oppo­site direc­tion: low­er your bel­ly but­ton and tilt your pelvis back­ward. Move your glutes and ster­nup up. Pull your shoul­der blades back­ward and low­er them, while your eyes wan­der for­ward. Try to repeat this exer­cise smooth­ly 5- to 8-times.

2.Rotation in table­top posi­tion

You’re in table­top posi­tion again. Knees are in align­ment with the hips, hands are aligned with the shoul­ders. The toes are curled under your feet and you look toward the floor, while you length­en your spine.

Now, the right arm reach­es up, while your upper body opens up. Pull back your right shoul­der. Your eyes move toward the fin­ger­tips of your right hand. After this, you move back into the ini­tial posi­tion and you per­form the exer­cise on the oth­er side. Repeat 5- to 8-times.

 3. Dynam­ic lunge

This exer­cise starts in an upright posi­tion. Your feet are aligned with your hips and your arms are loose­ly placed in front of your chest.

Now you step for­ward with your right foot. Your right thigh is par­al­lel to the floor and the left knee is close to the ground. Make sure the right knee is direct­ly over your ankle. Your upper body remains upright through­out the exer­cise. 

Now step into anoth­er lunge, this time with the left foot. Repeat 5- to 8-times.

4.Dynamic side lunge

For this type of lunge you need a tow­el. Place it under your left foot. This exer­cise also starts in an upright posi­tion. Your left foot is placed on the tow­el, your toes point to the out­er edge. Your arms are loose­ly placed in front of your chest.

 

Now you move the tow­el with your foot toward the left side. Bend your knee while mov­ing and low­er­ing your glutes back­ward. Your right thigh is almost par­al­lel to the floor and your left leg is elon­gat­ed. Now you smooth­ly pull back your leg to your body, bring­ing your upper body back into an upright posi­tion. Repeat this exer­cise 5- to 8-times, then move to the oth­er side.


5. Indoor-row­ing

For this exer­cise you need a door and a tow­el. Posi­tion your­self, fac­ing the upper edge of the door. Tie your tow­el around both sides of the door han­dle. Place your feet on the left and right side of the door. Now grab your tow­el and bend your body back­wards until your arms are straight. Your upper body is acti­vat­ed. Make sure your back is always straight.

 

Now, bend your elbows and pull your upper body as close to the door as pos­si­ble. Move your elbows close to your body to sta­bi­lize your upper body. After that bend your body slow­ly back­wards again. Repeat this exer­cise 5- to 8-times.

 

Con­clu­sion: With these five sim­ple and easy exer­cis­es you can pre­pare your body for your unique every­day chal­lenges, because who wouldn’t want to effort­less­ly car­ry the gro­cery bags up on the third floor?

 

Pho­to cred­it: Nils Schwarz

Get­ting Over Your Post-Vaca­tion Blues: Fit For Your Job With Func­tion­al Train­ing

Get­ting Over Your Post-Vaca­tion Blues: Fit For Your Job With Func­tion­al Train­ing

It’s fall again, days are slow­ly get­ting short­er, and since we’re already past the end of sum­mer, our moti­va­tion to exer­cise is decreas­ing more and more each day. Once we’re back at work we already start dream­ing and secret­ly plan­ning our next trip, espe­cial­ly if the only way we get a glimpse of the sun is through the Insta­gram fil­ters of our friends, who seem to be eter­nal­ly trav­el­ing the Caribbean.  But escapism is not a viable solu­tion, exer­cise is. If we move and espe­cial­ly if we work­out, our body pro­duces endor­phins, which ulti­mate­ly trans­forms our post-vaca­tion-blues into post-vaca­tion hap­pi­ness.

How­ev­er, peo­ple who’ve spent their sum­mer loung­ing at the beach rather than doing lunges should start slow­ly. Run­ning a marathon might not be the ide­al way to start out. Espe­cial­ly peo­ple who work in front of com­put­ers and who suf­fer from pain in their back, neck and shoul­ders can begin with sim­ple exer­cis­es that relieve ten­sion.

A good way to start is to get up every half an hour and take two min­utes to sim­ply straight­en your spine, do some stretch­ing or just walk around the office. But there are many more help­ful mini-work­outs that can improve your gen­er­al well being. Func­tion­al train­ing espe­cial­ly offers a mul­ti­tude of exer­cis­es that are not only easy to inte­grate into your dai­ly rou­tine but also effi­cient­ly tar­get the areas of your body that need improve­ment (insert link to func­tion­al train­ing). You don’t even need pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment. In order to show this we’ve put togeth­er some easy and small func­tion­al train­ing exer­cis­es, which you can prac­tice at home or dur­ing your office lunch break. They’re not only reen­er­giz­ing but also spark moti­va­tion as they inter­rupt your dai­ly rou­tine and there­by allow you to put things into per­spec­tive.

 

VWTU

This exer­cise allows you to relieve ten­sion from your shoul­ders. Through mobi­liza­tion, the area around the rib cage opens up which allows you to breathe more freely. Also your neck mus­cles are more relaxed if you per­form this exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly.

Exer­cise Exe­cu­tion

  1. Raise your arms above your head in order to form a “V”.
  2. Keep mov­ing your arms in a uni­form and syn­chro­nous fash­ion.
  3. Make sure your keep your head straight.
  4. Bring your elbows par­al­lel to your body and raise your arms at an angle, in order to form a “W” in the end posi­tion.
  5. Reach out your arms to the side until they form a hor­i­zon­tal line and your body is in a  “T” shape.
  6. Keep your upper arms in this posi­tion and bend your low­er arms in order to form a “U”.

Ini­tial Posi­tion

  1. Place feet in line with your hips.
  2. Hold your upper body upright (lift your ster­num, keep your shoul­ders down and back).
  3. Your abdom­i­nal and gluteal mus­cles should be tense.
  4. The head is aligned with the spine.
  5. Your arms and shoul­ders are relaxed.
  6. Make sure that your knee joints are sta­ble.

Stand­ing Dumb­bell Cobra: Two Arms (Instead of Dumb­bells you can use two 1l bot­tles of water)

This exer­cise strength­ens the mus­cles between your shoul­der blades, which trains your tho­racic spine and helps your upper body to stay bal­anced.

This is what you should pay atten­tion to:

  1. Your legs are in line with your hips.
  2. Your knees are slight­ly bent.
  3. Your trunk mus­cles are con­tract­ed.
  4. Straight­en your upper body (lift your ster­num, keep your shoul­der down and back).
  5. Bend your upper body 45° to the front.
  6. Your arms are slight­ly bent.
  7. The back of your hand is faced toward the front.

Exe­cu­tion

  1. Lift your hands slow­ly and syn­chro­nous­ly. Try to raise them as far as pos­si­ble but keep in mind to per­form slow and con­trolled move­ments.
  2. Rotate your arms in order to bring your thumbs into a posi­tion in which they point towards the sky.
  3. Pull your shoul­ders togeth­er.
  4. Your arms should move until they are aligned at shoul­der lev­el, while always remain­ing slight­ly bent.
  5. Bring your arms slow­ly back into the start­ing posi­tion.

Stand­ing Dumb­bell Nar­row Grip Row: Two Arms

This is what you should pay atten­tion to:

  1. Align your legs with your hips.
  2. Your knees are slight­ly bent.
  3. Your trunk mus­cles are con­tract­ed.
  4. Your upper body is straight­ened (lift you ster­num, keep your shoul­der down and back).
  5. Bend your upper body 45° to the front.
  6. Your arms are slight­ly bent.
  7. The backs of your hands are fac­ing down.

Exe­cu­tion

  1. Pull both elbows slow­ly and syn­chro­nous­ly upward as high as pos­si­ble, while keep­ing them close to your body.
  2. The upper body remains firm
  3. Move both arms slow­ly and syn­chro­nous­ly back into the start­ing posi­tion.

These exer­cis­es will not only help you to relieve pain from your back, shoul­ders and neck. They will also allow you to spice up your work­day and let’s be hon­est, who doesn’t feel ener­gized after exer­cis­ing?

Back to Basics: Func­tion­al Train­ing – A Trend Or More?

Back to Basics: Func­tion­al Train­ing – A Trend Or More?

Doc­tors, phys­io­ther­a­pists and fit­ness coach­es: every­one is talk­ing about func­tion­al train­ing. But what’s behind the trend and is it more than just a hype? And more impor­tant­ly, how does it dif­fer from “con­ven­tion­al” forms of train­ing? Pix­Tips wants to shed some light into these and many oth­er ques­tions sur­round­ing this fas­ci­nat­ing top­ic. That’s why we are intro­duc­ing a series, which is ded­i­cat­ed to every­thing about func­tion­al train­ing. In our posts we seek answers to ques­tions like:  What exact­ly is func­tion­al train­ing? Why is it so pop­u­lar? What are the ben­e­fits of it and who can do func­tion­al train­ing? In this post we want to pro­vide a more gen­er­al overview, before we dive into the top­ic some more.

What exact­ly is func­tion­al train­ing?

Func­tion­al train­ing is a phi­los­o­phy that orig­i­nat­ed in the USA. As its name already sug­gests, the goal of func­tion­al train­ing is to pre­pare the body for tasks that are func­tion­al and per­formed in every­day life. Whether it’s jump­ing, run­ning, pulling or return­ing to an upright posi­tion, climb­ing stairs, lift­ing things or turn­ing in dif­fer­ent direc­tions, func­tion­al train­ing cov­ers them all and excites because of its ver­sa­til­i­ty. This is also why this exer­cise phi­los­o­phy is not only pop­u­lar in pro­fes­sion­al sports, but is now also well estab­lished in fit­ness stu­dios and in reha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ters.

What’s so spe­cial about func­tion­al train­ing?

In con­trast to con­ven­tion­al forms of train­ing, func­tion­al train­ing does not rely on tra­di­tion­al fit­ness or reha­bil­i­ta­tion equip­ment like the leg press or but­ter­fly machines, which all only tar­get cer­tain mus­cles in iso­la­tion. Func­tion­al train­ing shifts the focus to a more prac­ti­cal full-body work­out, which pre­pares you for a mul­ti­tude of tasks per­formed in every­day life. Using either your own body-weight or spic­ing things up with free weights, med­i­cine balls or ropes, with this type of train­ing you’re able to strength­en your body in the areas that are rel­e­vant to your indi­vid­ual needs. Func­tion­al train­ing there­fore dif­fers from oth­er work­outs because of the way it tar­gets your body and there­by not only enhances strength, flex­i­bil­i­ty and mobil­i­ty but also teach­es you holis­tic move­ment pat­terns, which are actu­al­ly rel­e­vant to you dai­ly life.  Mus­cle devel­op­ment is a pos­i­tive side effect, but not the main focus of this kind of work­out.

Func­tion­al train­ing cen­ters on exer­cis­es like squats, pushups and lunges amongst many oth­er exer­cis­es. All of them enhance the abil­i­ty of ath­letes to bal­ance and sta­bi­lize their own body-weight, while also engag­ing the entire body. This low­ers the risk of injury in sports sig­nif­i­cant­ly. But not only ath­letes can prof­it from this. Func­tion­al train­ing is for every­one as it gen­er­al­ly increas­es your endurance and helps you to build mus­cle, which ulti­mate­ly increas­es your metab­o­lism. Ulti­mate­ly, peo­ple who inte­grate func­tion­al train­ing in their exer­cise rou­tines are bet­ter pre­pared for the com­plex­i­ties of every­day life.

Functional Training

A Trend or more?

Even though func­tion­al train­ing is often described as a trend, it has in fact a long his­to­ry. For decades, pro­fes­sion­al ath­letes have already inte­grat­ed func­tion­al exer­cis­es into their work­out rou­tine and have ben­e­fit­ed from their advan­tages. In the ear­ly 1960s Michael Boyle already pub­lished his now canon­i­cal work Func­tion­al Train­ing For Sports, which laid the foun­da­tion for many oth­ers. Today these insights have been devel­oped and are also applied in the med­ical field and the fit­ness indus­try. Func­tion­al train­ing is there­fore far more than just a trend. It is a phi­los­o­phy of train­ing with last­ing impact that enables peo­ple of all fit­ness lev­els to pre­pare for the unique chal­lenges they are fac­ing in a healthy way.

The next posts of this series will delve into this top­ic some more and hope­ful­ly pro­vide some more insights into func­tion­al train­ing and for exam­ple talk about the ben­e­fits of this type of work­out. We would also like to hear your ques­tions, com­ments and about your expe­ri­ences with func­tion­al train­ing. Feel free to con­tact as via mail at askus@pixformance.com or just leave us a com­ment in the sec­tion below.