Core and functional training are a rage in fitness for a while now. Because they improve daily functioning, these approaches are well-worth their weight in hype. Functional training and core training are two sides to the same coin. Both are focused on strengthening your muscles so you can support daily activities and reducing the chance of injury or reinjuring yourself.
Every person has a unique musculoskeletal system and requires specific activities. Personal trainers are specialists in functional and core training. They carefully evaluate each client’s daily activities and create a customized exercise program.
Training and certification
In gyms, health clubs, and community centers like the YMCA, personal trainer certification is the norm. However, it is possible to become a certified personal coach in as little as one weekend.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Academy of Sports Medicine(NASM) and American College of Sports Medicines (ACSM) are some of the best training/certifying agencies. These agencies have stricter programs and require more testing. To remain certified, all require ongoing education.
Experiential trainers are more likely to focus on certain populations, such as the elderly, athletes, boomers, and/or exercise types such as prenatal or after rehab (picking up from physical therapists). Ask prospective trainers about their training, specializations, and experiences. Many offer introductory discounts at a reduced price. You should try one or two sessions before you commit to a longer package. Although it may seem obvious, we will say it anyway: The ideal personal trainer must “walk the talk.” They must be able to move well and stay healthy. This does not mean being a model or having huge muscles. Overly active can lead to a lot of problems.
Training muscles isn’t functional – they’re too tight. It’s easy to see when it happens.
Muscle-bound people do not have the ability to bend down or move as easily as those with tight muscles.
Resistance Training is a great way to get stronger
You can create resistance to condition your muscles in many ways. With your body, such as push-ups and weight-training with barbells or with flexible bands. These will all increase your strength.
There are two types of weights: machines and free weights. Control is more important with free weights. As you move the weight, it is important to balance and support it. The machines, on the contrary, can support the movement and be a benefit when starting a weight training program.
How often and how much weight should you lift? You should do three sets of any given exercise. Each set should be 8-10 repetitions. Your targeted muscles should feel tired by the end of your last set. Each muscle group should be worked twice per week. On Mondays and Wednesdays, you can work on the lower body, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are for the upper body.
Muscle Conditioning using Resistance Bands
Flexible bands are lightweight and portable, and can be made in a variety of resistances. These bands can be used to strengthen your legs, arms, and abdomen muscles. These bands can be used for quick energy boosts at work or on the go. We’ve already said that short, intense exercise can make a big difference in your day. These are three easy ways to use the bands.
The flex band should be held loosely. Your wrists should be straight. Do not wrap the band around your wrist. Grab the middle of the band to increase resistance. For a decrease in resistance, grab closer to the ends. Standing straight, draw your abdominals in. All exercises require you to inhale and exhale to prepare.
With one hand in each of your hands, stand in the middle and hold onto the band. Stand tall and slowly lift the band up. Then, lower it slowly. Perform 10 repetitions. Do 10 repetitions. Pause, then repeat the process twice more.
Place your right heel on the left side of the band. Grab the opposite end of the band using your right hand. You should hold the band taut, with your right hand. Slowly bend your side to the left, then slowly return to the center. Inhale and bend towards the side. Five reps. Continue to the other side.
Keep the band behind you with your palms towards you and your hands close to your body. Your shoulders should be rolled back. Keep your arms straight and pull the band apart with your upper back slightly arched. Five reps. Do five repetitions. Pause, then repeat. This is a great exercise to reduce stress caused by computer work.
Balance your life
As we age, it is particularly important to focus on balance-building exercises. Balance is essential for daily life. Good balance is essential in cold environments with snow and ice. A strong core can help prevent injury if you fall.
There are many ways to test your balance. You can use your body to challenge your balance, or you can buy one of many cheap gadgets at your local gym. These include:
- Wobble boards
- Rotating disks
- Walking shoes with rocker-bottom
Aerobics with low impact are important
Activities that increase heart rate can help you keep your back strong and healthy. How do you do it? Good blood flow is essential for maintaining a healthy spine and intervertebral disks.
Aerobic exercise increases blood flow throughout the body. Exercise increases your heart rate, which helps to spread natural endorphins.
For the best aerobic exercise results, you should aim to do at least three sessions per week of 30 minutes each. How can you tell if your heart rate is right? If you can speak but cannot sing, then you are good. These are some low-impact aerobic options:
- Power walk
- Elliptical machine * Nonimpact dance
Get on the Ball
These large inflatable balls can be used to increase your core fitness and aerobic exercise. You can increase your heart rate by simply bouncing on the ball. It’s great fun. Engage your abdominal muscles to support your spine.
Be in control of your bounce. The ball is not bouncing at you, but it is bouncing the ball. Balance is important while you bounce the ball. If you didn’t balance, you would fall off. These are just a few of the many benefits you get from using an inflatable ball.
Place your elbows on the ball. Press down gently, keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Gently pull your tailbone down and lean forward towards the ball. Do not arch your back. This exercise strengthens your abdominal muscles as well as your shoulders.
Place your back on the ball, with your feet hip-width apart. Your head should be supported by your hands. Allow your upper back to arch a bit. The deeper you stretch, the further back you can go. This will help open your chest, shoulders and neck.
Place your knees on the ball and place your body in front of it. This is a great way to relax the back and open your spine. If you have a herniated disk that is causing problems, you can flex your back.
Use a foam roller to stretch it out
The foam roller, as we have mentioned in Chapter 5, is a great tool to keep on hand. It can be used for many different exercises. You can build strength and balance, while others improve flexibility. These are two positions that you should try.
Place your arms in the goal-post position on the roller. Your hands should touch the ground to allow you to relax best. You can use pillows to support your shoulders and chest if they are too tight. For at least a minute, remain in this position. Relax and breathe slowly. This will help to relax muscles that are tightened from sitting.
Place the roller under your sacrum (the triangular-shaped bone at your bottom). This point has a lot nerve endings, so the roller may feel a bit tender. However, it should not be painful. Simply hold the position as shown. To increase hip stretch, pull one leg in towards you while the other is straight out. For about one minute, hold the position and then switch sides. This position can stretch tight hip muscles which is often a source of lower back pain.
- You can strengthen your muscles by using weights, resistance bands and large inflatable balls.
- For back care, the best fitness methods include aerobics, muscle conditioning and balance work.
- Good form is key to avoiding injury in all exercise.