Functional Training The Buzz Word Of Fitness!

Its always nice so have a fresh start doing something exciting and have a new challenge!

So are you tired of your current fitness regime, why dont you try something different?

Have you ever heard the term functional training? Well, you can be forgiven if you haven’t but it’s certainly all the rage amongst personal trainers involved in the fitness industry. Now there will be some who will claim that this is nothing but the latest personal training gimmick that promises maximum gains for minimum effort. Well, we’d have to take issue with that. We feel functional training has the potential to offer our clients more than other traditional training methods ever could, and here’s why.images

So what exactly is functional training? Well, the dictionary definition won’t really help there we’re afraid. Functional training is defined as ‘a spectrum of activities that condition the body consistent with its integrated movement and/or use, and an exercise continuum involving balance and proprioception, performed with the feet on the ground and without machine-assistance, such that strength is displayed in unstable conditions and body weight is managed in all movement planes.’

We think you’ll probably agree that’s about as clear as mud: it certainly says everything and nothing at the same time. So, here’s our definition: a functional training programme is, as the name suggests, ‘functional: it’s a means to an end. It focuses on the ultimate goals of the fitness programme so that the methods used to achieve these goals can be reached. So rather than helping you get fit so that you can reach your targets, a functional training programme will set the targets first and adjust and adapt the training regime accordingly. Confused? Well, read on and hopefully you won’t be for long.

Because functional training programmes are target-driven, they are each unique. Every programme will be tailor-made for an individual client. However, each individual programme is constructed using the same methods and principles. A functional programme needs to cover every possible factor that can affect overall performance. The personal trainer will need to look at every factor when designing and planning this programme.

Goals

A functional training programme must have a goal. The programme is based on helping the client reach this goal. You cannot plan a journey unless you know where you want to finish. So every phase of the plan will be directly intended to helping the client achieve this ultimate goal.

Physical training

Physical training is a huge component of the overall programme. The chosen exercises will mimic as closely as possible the relevant movement patterns of the task/goal at hand. For example if we are training for improved performance in a rugby player, we will plan for movements that replicate the demands placed on a player during a game. These factors are then considered when planning the appropriate exercises: they’ll include things like the range of movement patterns, the frequency of movements, the duration of movements, the rest periods between movements, the rate of force production and the total force production. When all of these factors have been considered it’s then important to pick the correct type of equipment to perform the exercises with. Sitting on fixed machinery would be inappropriate for somebody who performs in an unstable multi-planar environment. So, we’d look at the use of kettle-bells, sandbags, ropes, medicine balls as well as other pieces of functional kit to help to provide the correct training stimulus.

Psychology

The correct mental state will have a huge bearing on the results. Focus, clarity of thought and calculated expectation are all beneficial in achieving long-term goals. Visualisation can improve performance markedly.

Nutrition

Fuelling the body appropriately is critical to achieving success. In weight or body fat related challenges, tailored nutrition is pivotal to success. With other aims it is still important to provide the body with all it needs, so it’s important to avoid intolerances, or foods that complicate the digestive processes. Providing a measured calorie intake that contains the correct macronutrient balance dramatically affects the body’s response to exercise. A week to week, day to day, meal to meal plan is the best way of maintaining a solid nutritional plan.

Postural correction and maintenance

We all suffer from physical imperfections of one sort or other. These imperfections can lead us to alter our posture, which can reduce performance or increase the likelihood of injury. A daily routine of correctional stretching, mobilisation and correctional strengthening will help to reduce this potential for injury.

Planning

There needs to be a plan, bit it’s important to break this plan down into stages. Each training period will differ in content, duration and intensity, dependant on the goal and the condition of the individual. Each training period should allow for calculated overload, adaption and progression. The constant measurement and evaluation of the training cycle prevents plateauing and ensures that the client stays focused on the ultimate goal.

Lifestyle

Factors outside training can have a huge influence on the end result. If you’re training for a couple of hours a day, then it’s important to consider what you’re doing during the other 22 hours. What you do during these times can impact on training and on the results. Personal trainers will consider factors like sleep, stress, and other external activities. For example we often see in individuals that remain seated for long periods that they develop postural deficiencies related to an imbalance in certain muscles. Making people more aware of this and trying to help them avoid these situations, will help to reduce any negative effects on the training, and improve the chances of success.

So if your local to the Stockport area and fancy changing your boring fitness routine give em a shout ill be happy to help, thats why im here!

Are we taking the wrong approach to obesity?

Are we taking the wrong approach to obesity?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), obesity is now classed as a ‘disease’.

obese

With as many as a third or more of all adults being so overweight that their health is affected, it is estimated that by 2020 there will be more overweight people than ‘normal’ weight people, sadly including children.

There is no doubt that being significantly overweight is bad for just about every aspect of your health, but with the increase of cosmetic weight-loss procedures (gastric bands, gastric balloons, endobarriers & gastric sleeves to name a few), and a row upon row of expensive diet pills on the shelves that promise to help you drop a stone in a week, are we being lazy and taking the easy option by treating the symptoms of obesity rather than addressing the cause? The cause generally being a result of eating too much, eating the wrong foods, and being too sedentary.

Fitness writer Patrick Dale of Ultrafit points out that Western medicine is by and large ‘allopathic’. This simply means that when you go to see your doctor, they ask you what’s wrong, and give you medication to control these symptoms.

Beta blockers and ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure, benzodiazepines for insomnia (I myself have been a culprit of giving into such medication to knock me out at night) Feeling stressed? No problem, there’s a medication for that too!

 Granted not every doctor takes this approach, but it’s certainly notable when comparing our approach to Eastern medicine, which is more homeopathic in nature. Where Western medicine treat symptoms, Eastern medicine treats causes.

A homeopathic approach to lowering blood pressure would probably combine diet modifications, exercise and stress management techniques to address the cause.

 That’s not to say that Western medicine doesn’t have its place, and without a doubt if I were to be diagnosed with a serious disease or injury, I’d be at the front of the queue to be treated, however, are we going about treating obesity in the right manner by using medicinal ‘quick fixes’.

For me, my insomnia (which I’d been addressing with sleeping pills), bad skin (for which I’d been prescribed various ineffective creams & gels by numerous dermatologists) and low energy levels have been hugely impacted by dramatically altering my nutrition. It turns out I was nutrient deficient, despite me thinking my eating habits were relatively healthy.

And more recently, meditation has helped reduce my stress levels, which undoubtedly were contributing towards my insomnia and poor skin, which, in turn has reduced my comfort eating!

 If you’re one of many who are carrying extra weight as a result of overeating and simply not exercising enough, (as I myself have been the past) transforming your body is about taking personal responsibility for making the changes you want; a journey that will take commitment and discipline, along with support and education from appropriate resources. Start thinking out of the box and investigate WHY you may be overeating…..

 Are you an emotional eater, or find yourself running to the fridge at times of high stress? If so, think about trying out meditation or yoga to help improve your mood, bring your blood pressure back down, and in turn may help to reduce the risk of mindless munching.

 Do you rely heavily on ready meals and take-always because you’re short of either time or culinary skills (or both!) If so, then why not look into investing in a short course of ‘quick, healthy cooking lessons’ that will benefit the entire family. A skill that will last you a life time, and one you can pass on to your children to ensure they develop healthy habits too.

 A lack of sleep can also have an effect on your body’s ability to store fat……why are you lacking sleep? Can you adapt your evening schedule by switching off the TV or PC on an evening & making it a habit to  go to bed earlier, or are you lying awake at night because you’re stressed, in which case, how can you alleviate your stress…..?

 Delve a bit deeper, look at your lifestyle, and develop skills and practices to help you on the way to an holistically healthier lifestyle.

 

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