What is functional strength training anyway?
- Functional training is a category of exercise that mirrors normal daily movements. Its goal is to help you perform your regular routines more easily and with less pain. [more]
- The specific benefits of functional training include increased core strength, a wider range of motion, and improved flexibility. Together, these benefits can improve your quality of life. [more]
- Yoga is a great example of functional training, since many yoga poses are based on our natural movements and use bodyweight as resistance. [more]
- Downward-Facing Dog, Chair Pose, Warrior 3, Chatarunga, and Opposite Arm/Opposite Leg Table-Top are a few basic yoga moves that also serve as effective functional training. [more]
Everyone wants to live their best life. In fact, the whole “live your best life!” thing in the title is probably what piqued your interest in this post in the first place!
Now that you’re here, it’s time you got our best bulldog secrets about how to maximize your quality of life. This probably won’t surprise you, but it’s all about yoga.
Of course, you’re thinking. Bulldog yoga would point to yoga as the key to living your best life ever.
But listen up, because we wouldn’t steer you wrong! Yoga has serious potential to make your life better… for so many reasons. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one reason, but today, we’re going to break down the way yoga operates as functional strength training and why that’s such a good thing.
Let’s get into it.
What is functional strength training?
A basic definition is always a good place to start, especially when we’re talking about something as important as your quality of life. What is functional training?
According to Healthline, functional training “is a term used to describe exercises that help you perform activities in everyday life more easily.” The idea with functional training is to engage in exercises that mirror the movements that are necessary for your day-to-day routine. We’ll talk more about specific functional training moves shortly, but generally speaking, squatting, reaching, and lifting factor heavily into this kind of exercise.
The opposite of functional training is bodybuilding. In bodybuilding, participants tend to focus on one muscle at a time, whereas functional training targets the same muscle groups that need to be in good working order for you to move comfortably through daily life. Bodybuilding, of course, also uses heavier weights. Since lifting heavy objects is usually not required in our normal routines, it doesn’t really have a place in a functional training program.
Many functional training moves are basic bodyweight exercises, which is where yoga comes in. More on that later!
Spoiler Alert! Yoga is one of the best functional strength training exercises …
No equipment necessary! 🙌
Benefits of functional strength training
Here are a few of the specific benefits of functional training that will make it easier and more comfortable for you to perform daily tasks and activities.
Functional training strengthens your core muscles.
Many functional training moves and exercises work the muscles in the lower back and abdomen. Core strength is critical for everything from sitting up in bed in the morning to leaning over to grab laundry from the floor — and so much more. Working on your core isn’t about getting a six-pack. It’s about moving easily and without injury through your days! A healthy core will help get you through your daily movements.
It increases your range of motion.
In order to do the things you need to do, you need to be able to move around! Functional training will help your body maintain its maximum range of motion so you can reach, step, jump, stretch, and do, well, all of the other things.
It can improve flexibility.
You might already know that yoga promotes flexibility (that being said, being flexible is not a pre-requisite to starting yoga – we want to bust that myth!) And since yoga serves as effective functional training, it should follow naturally that functional training is also good for flexibility. The more flexible you are, the better equipped you’ll be to move through your days without injury. You also may experience fewer aches and pains!
Functional training boosts endurance.
Being a human can be exhausting sometimes. Endurance is a must! If you find yourself getting winded and fatigued after performing standard tasks, you might want to consider a functional training regimen. Alternatively, if you live a very active lifestyle, yoga can also help boost athletic performance as well!
It makes you feel better about life!
When you put all of these benefits together, it’s no wonder that functional training is thought to improve one’s quality of life. After all, if you could do all of the things you have to do in a day and feel physically better in the process, wouldn’t you want to? Yoga is also one of the few exercises you can do throughout all stages of life!
Moving through your routine with minimal pain and fewer limitations can only be a good thing.
Yoga as functional strength training
You’ve probably already figured this out, but let’s just make it clear…
Yoga IS functional strength training.
Why? Because a yoga practice is built on natural movements that we all use when we’re not working out. Plus, like the moves that are required for standard daily activities, yoga poses almost always use bodyweight (rather than heavy weight) as resistance. Bodyweight exercises not only provide a whole host of health benefits, they’re also super convenient to do anywhere since you won’t need any additional equipment!
Across the board, yoga’s benefits make it easier to perform your normal activities. Here are some of those functional benefits, according to Healthline…
- Decreased stress
- Anxiety relief
- Inflammation reduction
- Improved cardiac health
- Less chronic pain
- Better sleep
- Increased balance
- Better breathing
5 must-try yoga moves
Now that we’ve established that functional training rocks and that you can cash in on its benefits on the yoga mat, let’s chat about specific poses. These five yoga moves will provide a great starting point for your functional training journey…
One of the most classic yoga poses, downward-facing dog makes for great functional training because of the way it strengthens the upper and lower body, stimulates blood flow, and improves posture. It can also help decrease tension, especially in the neck and shoulders.
Think about how many times you have to bend into some version of a squat throughout the day. It’s a common movement, which is why it’s key for your body to be able to perform it without pain or discomfort. Getting into a chair pose regularly on your yoga mat will be a big help, since it builds the muscles in your lower body.
It’s impossible to overestimate how much balance is required in everyday life. Without balance, you run the risk of falling and getting hurt with basically every move. Warrior 3 is a great pose for building core strength and improving that all-important balance.
Chaturanga Progression – AKA Staff Pose
In case you’re new to yoga, a Chaturanga flow is a sequence that takes you from downward-facing dog to a high plank, then slowly down to a low plank, then into upward-facing dog. The progression is great for upper-body strength and overall body control.
Opposite Arm/Opposite Leg Table-Top
Like Warrior 3, this move is all about balance and stability!
Start Functional Strength Training Today!
These 5 moves are just the tip of the iceberg of yoga poses that provide functional strength training! At Bulldog, we break down the top yoga poses with instruction and sample pics. When you’re ready for the next step, you can put the poses together in a fun yoga sequence to reap the full-body benefits on and off the mat. Check out a sample flow here!
If the aches, pains, and frustrations of doing the everyday basics are bringing you down, relief isn’t so far away. Functional training can help you move through your routines more comfortably, improving your quality of life in the process. With our online yoga classes, you can log your functional training in the comfort of your own home and whenever it works best for you. You deserve to feel better — and with functional training through yoga, you can!
Have fun while working out …
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