Functional training: focusing on your physical ability rather than your physical appearance.

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It is in our nature to want to better ourselves. Setting goals for ourselves gives us direction in life and allows us to measure our own success. Setting goals is important, especially when it comes to our health, because our health dictates the way we live our lives. Fitness is a crucial aspect of health because when we improve our fitness, we improve our overall health.

The fitness industry is booming right now. You can’t flip through TV channels without coming across the latest trend to be “fit.” But what is fit really? The media has created this image of being fit as being physically appealing. Toned arms, flat stomach, skinny jeans are the descriptions we use as someone who is fit. Yes, nothing feels better than feeling good in your clothes but how do you measure that? When do you know when to stop, when you’ve succeeded, are you really satisfied? You might set a goal to fit into size 7 jeans, but once you get there is that going to be good enough for you? This mindset of being fit creates an image that leads to unhealthy habits and disappointment.  

This is where I introduce something called functional training. Functional training focuses on exercises that have a direct relationship to the activities you perform in your daily life. This concept allows endless opportunities and possibilities. It allows you to try and do things in your life that you never thought was possible. It creates a challenge for yourself that will show your strength, capability and success. Not only does functional training challenge your body but it challenges your mindset. Whether you are already an athlete and you have hit a plateau or you are sick of your obsession with the scale, functional training will open up a whole new perspective of what being “fit” really means.

Focus on the number of reps rather than the number on the scale. Focus on the pounds added on the barbell rather than pounds subtracted on the scale. Focus on the improvement of your cardiovascular endurance rather than the calories burned doing it.  And I bet ladies who are reading this are thinking if they increase their weight on the bench press then they will get “jacked”. Well guess what, you won’t because unless we are taking steroids or enhancement supplement, our natural bodies won’t physically build to look “jacked”. Let me tell you ladies, there’s nothing sexier to a man than a woman on the squat rack. Am I right guys?? We think being strong is supposed to be a “manly” thing but it’s not. To me, being strong overall is more important than being a size 0 because strength is functional. I can use my physical ability to better my daily life but what can I do with a pair of size 0 jeans?  

 Before I end this, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that I struggle with this concept of functional training. I am guilty of checking the scale religiously and getting hooked on a number. It’s a work in progress and a healthier way to get to our idea of fit.  I’m preaching this because we need to become more focused on what our bodies are capable of doing rather than our physical appearance. Switching our obsession from the scale to challenging our body’s capability will benefit us mentally and in the end physically as well. Have you ever seen an out of shape person do 20 pull-ups?  If we concentrate more on our body’s strength and endurance, a change in our physique will come with it. So create a few functional training goals for yourself and map out a plan to reach it. When you do reach it you will realize everything you worried about before won’t matter. You will become an overall stronger person physically and mentally.

Here are a few functional training goals that I have set up for myself and may give you some ideas:

  1. I want to be able to do 20 pull-ups
  2. I want to be able to bench press my bodyweight
  3. I want to be able to do 50 push-ups in a row

All these goals are measurable and attainable and when I see progression and finally reach those goals it will mean a lot more to me than a number on the scale. So ask yourself, what do you want to be able to do??

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