Shorter workouts using functional movement will give us the same (if not better!) results

At the end of a day working from home, schooling at home, or doing anything to avoid doomscrolling the news via social media (and then doing it anyway), it can feel like the act of just collapsing on the sofa is a ‘functional movement’. It is absolutely necessary and it certainly serves a purpose in our day to day lives.

But true ‘functional movement’, a term we hear often these days, is in fact using one of the human body's 7 essential movement patterns. These are:

· Hip Hinge

· Knee Bend

· Push

· Pull

· Core

· Rotation / twist

· Walk

Every human movement or activity can be categorised in this way. Heading upstairs? That’s bending at the knee. Emptying the dishwasher or picking up from the floor? That requires a hinging at the hip. Lifting overhead to put an item in the cupboard is your push movement, and a pulling motion would be something like pulling laundry out of the machine. Rotation is anything we do when we twist or turn, and the core as we know (see previous blog) is at the centre of all movement. Developing it protects the spine and strengthens any movement you perform.

I realise the examples are all very domestic (though no one is going out much these days) but if you switch the practical task or activity, the movement patterns still apply. Obviously we weren’t born doing laundry, but watch a toddler or child move for a few minutes and guaranteed they will tick all seven patterns off in no time.

Modern life, sedentary as it may feel a lot of the time, does actually require us to use and maintain these movement patterns. In the most primal sense our bodies were built to move in this variety of ways; they actually WANT us to be effective and efficient when performing them.

So ‘functional training’ is the type of work that incorporates all of these movement patterns, mimicking those that we need to do in our day to day activities. Essentially it is a focus on the whole movement, not the individual muscle.

And the best thing about it? Each pattern will in itself recruit LOADS - even 100s - of muscles at once. So if we select moves for our workouts that incorporate one, two or even more patterns simultaneously, our sessions can be more effective, shorter and therefore all the sweeter (hello kettlebell squat thrusters!)

For distinction, this type of training is in contrast to workouts where we repeat the same motion for extended periods (cycling, running) or isolate just one muscle or muscle group at a time (a lot of gym based equipment and programmes will do this).

So squats, lunges, and deadlifts will take care of your need to hinge and bend. Press ups and rows will work on your push and pull motions respectively. And these are just a few - there are so many ways to vary, combine and mix up these patterns.

It also gets even MORE EXCITING as when we use more muscles simultaneously, we increase the metabolic boost, we build our cardiovascular capacity, AND we will recognise changes and gains in our bodies more quickly.

So at Move Happy Fitness, it’s a no brainer. Shorter workouts for the same or likely even better results? Hells yes! We like it simple, happy, and human. 😃

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