- Functional Cardio
- Weights- use alt shift right arrow to open the sub menu
- Weightlifting- use alt shift right arrow to open the sub menu
- Fitness Nutrition- use alt shift right arrow to open the sub menu
- Fitness Accessories- use alt shift right arrow to open the sub menu
- Recovery- use alt shift right arrow to open the sub menu
Best Fits for Functional Strength Training
Supplement your functional strength training with these essentials
Functional strength training focuses on the movements you use every day to create a toned, healthy body —movements like bending, pushing, pulling, lifting, turning, walking and running. You might use functional training equipment to lose weight, maintain weight, build muscle or relieve stress. And all of it you can do at home with your own equipment. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Cardio exercise is an integral part of any effective workout plan, and experts recommend 20 to 30 minutes a day of activity that gets your heart rate going. The benefits of cardio are numerous, including burning fat, making your heart strong, increasing your lung capacity, reducing the risk of life-threatening diseases, lowering stress and improving your state of mind. Having your cardio equipment at home saves time from traveling to the gym, saves money from membership fees, allows you to work out any time of the day or night and gives you a convenient spot to stay fit regardless of the weather outside.
Aerobic steppers are one type of functional cardio equipment you can choose. They mimic the motions you use to walk up stairs, using your legs, core and arms for a full-body workout. Rowers are excellent in strengthening abs while using a rowing motion to exercise your legs and arms as well. You can also get a cardio workout at home with indoor exercise bikes. Upright bikes work your abdominal muscles well while recumbent bikes tend to create less muscle soreness and fatigue. Look for folding or portable functional cardio equipment if saving space is a priority.
If cardio is the foundation of any good exercise program, weight training is its best friend. Building muscle burns fat, improves flexibility, strengthens bones, boosts brain function, improves your cardiovascular health and more. You can incorporate weight training right into your cardio workout by wearing ankle weights, wrist weights or a weighted vest. The added weight makes you work harder, thereby strengthening your heart and lungs while building muscle.
You can also use weights to isolate specific muscle groups as well as get a full-body workout. Kettlebells, for example, can be used to strengthen your upper, mid and lower body. Weight sets are dumbbells of various weights you can use for a variety of exercises as well as to increase the amount of weight you're lifting as your muscles strengthen. Slam balls and medicine balls are weighted balls you can use to work out with a partner or do individual exercises like lunges and squats for the lower body. Use slam balls primarily for throwing movements since they have a harder covering and can withstand impact against a wall or floor better. Using any of these types of weights takes up little space in your home workout area and are generally very cost effective.
Weight lifting involves a little extra equipment and generally some additional space as well. Your most essential pieces of equipment for a starter weightlifting set are barbells and weight plates. With these, you'll be able to perform exercises that strengthen your entire body, including squats and deadlifts for the legs, rows for the back, presses for the shoulders and chest and curls for the arms.
Barbell pads provide cushioning between your neck and shoulders and the bar, making them especially useful when doing heavy lifting. Use gym chalk to create more friction on your hands and prevent slippage. Weight lifting gloves also have the same benefit while protecting your hands from blistering too. Add a lifting belt to your equipment list for added back support.
Power racks, power cages, squat racks and workout benches allow you to use your barbells and weight plates to perform a variety of full-body strengthening exercises all in one relatively small area. When you want to use your body weight power to strengthen your muscles, consider power towers and dip stands to perform both pull up and push up movements.
Fitness nutrition and accessories
Be sure to fuel your body for maximum performance before, during and after your functional strength training workouts. Pre-workout supplements such as creatine increase strength and power, while BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) may enhance performance and reduce fatigue. Protein powders taken after your workout help build muscle, while omega-3 supplements and fish oils benefit both and the body and the brain.
Look to fitness accessories to add variety and convenience to your functional strength training routines. Jump ropes, including speed ropes, are an efficient way to get an excellent cardio workout in a confined space as well as build strength, endurance and flexibility. Battle ropes give you a full body workout. Resistance bands use your body weight to strengthen and tone muscles anywhere, even when traveling. Install a pull-up bar in a doorway for upper body strengthening at home, and use a variety of additional equipment such as plyo boxes for vertical leaps, foam rollers for balance and recovery rollers for massage after your workouts to reduce soreness and increase blood flow to your muscles.