Moving on to the intermediate level of resistance and the exercises begin to get a little more challenging for your core, proprioception, balance and stability. This is intentional, not only does it fire up your nervous system but it also helps carry over the benefits into our daily lives.
Week 7: Resistance Intermediate (Strength & Stability)
It's time to get functional
We all have goals that we are aiming to achieve when we embark on an exercise programme, for most of us it is the losing weight and looking good that is most important. However, very little thought is usually taken over exactly how our exercises will transfer over into daily life. How many times have you attended a gym or health club and been show how to use all the machines, then had a programme designed by a, so called, fitness professional that has you moving from one machine to the next. In our daily life, do we sit down and perform these unusual movements? No, we stand and bend and twist as we balance our way through daily life. Our exercise programmes must be based on function, not only because the movements are more natural but because they are far more successful at achieving your overall goals in the first place.
Functional exercise is by far the most productive form of exercise prescription whether it be for daily living, sports specific like golf, or for rehabilitation after injury. If you want help or advice on a functional exercise programme to suit you then you can contact me directly but for a few basic rules on whether a routine is functional or not you can ask yourself the following questions:
1) Does the movement follow a natural path or is it forced? Most machines have fixed hand positions that do not mimic our natural range of movement and can be bad for our joints.
2) Is it isolated (sacrifice function) or integrated (cause chain reaction throughout body)? Movements should be compound (Multi-joint). They burn more calories, are more natural and require more stability. If you think about any daily activity it never involves just one muscle, muscles have no functional individuality so why train them this way?
3) Are you challenging your balance and stabilisation like you do in daily life? We rarely spend time symmetrically on both feet, whether walking, running, bending, reaching etc. we are always transferring weight from one side of our body to the other.
4) Are you exercising 3-dimensional, are we moving in all 3 planes of movement, Sagittal (forward facing), frontal (to the side), transverse (twisting). We live in a 3D world, so we must train that way.
The following exercises show a good progression from week 3's basic resistance programme into functional training. Most of the exercises demonstrate a good functional movement for improving daily life activities. If training for a particular goal or sport like golf or tennis then the introduction of equipment may be necessary eg. stability balls, medicine balls, bands etc. but for basic function these exercises are a good starting point. Perform each exercise 10-20 times depending on ability and try to improve each workout. Complete this resistance program 3 times a week with a gentle 5 min walk before and afterwards, complete the stretching routine after that. Allow a days rest in between to recover.
A Cautionary Note
No exercise program should be painful, there is a difference between being tired and in pain. If you feel pain at any time then stop and consult a doctor. Pain indicates either incorrect technique or a medical problem. If you have any doubts about your current state of health then consult a medical professional before embarking on any fitness program.
Weeks 1-2 (3 x week)
5 Min Walk Warm up
2 x Complete circuits 10-20 x per exercise
5 Min Walk Cool Down
Stretching routine particularly those tight muscles.
Weeks 3-4 (3 x week)
As above but 3 x complete circuits 10-20 x per exercise
Next week: Nutrition
1 Leg Balance and reach
Great exercise to fire up the nervous system, improve balance, stability, flexibility and the core.
a) Stand tall on one leg arms above and shoulder width apart
b) Reach over to the side keeping your back straight as far as your flexibility will allow, if your balance fails try again but don't reach as far over.
c) Also try reaching forward, overhead and twisting to reach behind.
d) Swap legs, if one is weaker then spend more time on that side.
1 Leg Squat and Reach
This is a natural progression from the regular squat from week 3. It's very functional as we spend time bending and picking things up off the ground. It also challenges balance, core stability and works the quads and glutes intensely.
a) Standing on one leg gently lower yourself down, breathing in deeply and chest high, ensuring you keep your heel in contact with the floor. Try to get your thigh down to horizontal before reaching forward to touch the floor in front. Maintain a balanced pelvis throughout.
b) Exhale and push up using your leg.
c) This exercise takes time to perfect and I like to use an object to pick up and put down again for focus.
d) Try touching down in various areas in front to improve functionality.
Isometric prone up and down
This is a functional progression from week 3's prone position. It's dynamic and improves shoulder strength as well as overall core stability.
a) Lie face down on the ground. Place elbows and forearms underneath your chest.
b) Prop yourself up to form a bridge, using your toes and forearms; make sure your shoulders are directly over your elbows.
c) Maintain a flat back and don't allow your hips to sag towards the ground.
d) Now one hand at a time push up into a press up position, hold for a few seconds and return back to the original position. Photo shows transitional stage from elbows up to hands.
e) If you find this too difficult then try it off your knees.
Multi Directional Lunge
The lunge strengthens the legs, glutes, and improves balance and flexibility and sculpts the lower body. By making the lunge multi directional it mimics our daily movements.
a) Stand with your feet together with hand by your sides.
b) Take a step forward, inhaling on the way, descend slowly by bending at the hips, knee and ankle. Keep your lead foot flat on the floor.
c) Exhale and push back using the lead leg, returning to the start position.
d) Now repeat to the side at various angles and also behind by stepping backwards.
e) Keep torso upright, as leaning forward can cause injury.
Bridge one legged
Stimulates the glutes (bum), tightens up the backs of the legs and strengths the pelvic floor.
a) Lie on your back with one leg bent and the other straight out inline with the other thigh, heel in contact with the ground. Rest your arms by your side, palms downwards. Take a deep breath.
b) Exhale slowly, lifting your hips off the floor, squeezing your glutes until there's a straight line between shoulders, hips and knees. Don't force hips up further as it causes the back muscles to overwork.
c) Hold at the top of the movement for a second, squeezing the glutes tight, then lower the pelvis back towards the floor, inhaling on the way, not letting your backside touch the ground, then repeat.
d) Keep the one leg extended throughout the exercise and change legs half way through eg. 5 one leg and change.
Quadruped one arm one leg
Great for coordination, balance and transverse (twisting) core stability.
a) Begin on all fours, in neutral spine, with abdomen drawn in and chin tucked
b) Slowly raise one arm (thumb up) and the opposite leg, toe pointed away (triple extension).
c) Keep both arm and leg straight while lifting to body height.
d) Hold and return both arm and leg slowly to the ground, maintaining optimal alignment and repeat alternating sides
Certified Mobile London Personal Trainer based in Hampstead and also covering Belsize Park and Finchley areas. Offers a more holistic approach to health and fitness believing that without a sound understanding of all areas of health, namely: Posture, Flexibilty, Nutrition, Stress Management, Cardiovasular and Functional Exercise, true health can never be experienced. One to one personal training sessions are available