Have you ever looked at someone with a lean, muscular physique, and asked yourself, "How can I look like that?" or, "Can I do that without being a slave to weights?" Maybe you are an athlete determined to improve your conditioning, but afraid to include heavy weights into your training for fear of bulking up? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, know that you are not alone.
Functional and body-weight exercises have long been a staple in strength and conditioning programs; even more so today in the fitness-conscious world that we live in.
Functional training is a series of exercises that condition the body for activities that individuals perform in every day life. Exercises like push-ups, (which help to develop the entire chest as well as the triceps and anterior deltoids), or squats/lunges (which help to develop the entire lower extremities and core), also work to simulate the body's natural movement in lifting, bending, and balancing.
In addition to using your own body weight, utilizing kettle bells, resistance bands, sandbags, medicine balls, and stability balls, will also add to significant improvements in your strength, balance, and conditioning. Kettle bells and medicine balls are ideal for explosive exercises that burn calories, build power, and work major muscles. Resistance bands are ideal for low impact resistance, and medicine balls and stability balls are ideal for incorporating the core muscles into exercises that work the entire body. When you add these elements of functional and alternative training to your exercise regimen, you're not only receiving obvious, physical benefits, but you're also adding a level of excitement that can completely remove the monotony from a traditional workout.
With the new year soon upon us, many of us are ending 2012 with a re-evaluation of ourselves; physically, spiritually, and mentally. When it comes down to physical fitness, there are several things that may cause many of us to fall short of our goals; including a lack of motivation, boredom, or simply just not having enough time. We have all experienced one of these problems, but just imagine if we removed these factors and replaced them with exercises that challenge us, improve our physicality, and motivate us on a daily basis! By experiencing and developing a great, functional work-out routine, you will now have a developed plan to ensure you stick to your goals, or perhaps even exceed them, and inspire others to do the same. Imagine that!
When we are passionate about our health anything is possible. One of my favorite quotes by Aristotle is "We must no more ask whether the soul and body are one than ask whether the wax and figure impressed on it are one." You only get one body. Let's make the best of it!
Michael Shaw is a certified fitness trainer, sports performance nutrition specialist, owner of Shaw Fitness, a member of the Maryland Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, a BLS CPR instructor, and a fitness model. He can be reached at www.michaelroyshaw.com