FIT TIP: Muscle Isolation vs. Functional Fitness
March 25, 2014 // Category: Fitness Advisor
A lot of people walk into the gym with certain body parts on their minds – they want to target the triceps, focus on the inner thighs or work their biceps to exhaustion. Isolating muscles definitely has its purpose and place, but in today’s world, it’s all about functional fitness! Haven’t heard of the latest gym buzzword? Let us explain.
What’s the big deal? The goal of functional fitness is to train movements, not just muscles. Sometimes called movement-based exercise, functional exercises work multiple muscle groups at a time in order to build a body capable of doing real-life activities. Why? Our bodies are meant to function both inside and outside of the gym. When you lift a suitcase into an overhead compartment, a lone bicep is not doing all the work. Muscles always team up to carry the load, and functional fitness will help your body do this better!
How am I benefitting? When you work multiple parts of your body simultaneously, you not only improve your overall strength but you burn more calories, reduce fat and increase your flexibility. And since many movement-based exercises test your balance – think squats on a BOSU ball – you’ll gain greater coordination and stability.
Where do I start? If you’re new to functional fitness, focus on these key words at the gym: push, pull, squat, hinge and lunge. Any exercise that involves one of these five motions is guaranteed to work more than one muscle at a time. For example, your quads will be challenged on a leg extension machine, but your quads plus your hamstrings, calves and glutes will be worked with a squat!
The Life Fitness team loves the concept of moving multiple muscles at once so much that we have developed a brand new functional fitness experience called SYNRGY BlueSky. Much like the indoor SYNRGY360, our new small group training unit looks like a playground apparatus, but will help you train smarter to better prepare your body for everyday life – and you'll do it all in the outdoors. With a focus on small group stations and bodyweight training, look for SYNRGY BlueSky to kick off your functional fitness needs in the near future!