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.
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.
Photo credit: Nils Schwarz