Functional Exercises Explained Simply

These can be done anywhere with or without gym equipment!

Squats:
You squat every time you sit or stand, but as we get older our bodies have developed to pick up objects off the floor by bending over instead of squatting to pick it up like a toddler would.

Squats are great for your legs and glutes, the most powerful muscle group in the body.

If squats are done incorrectly, it can be hard on your knees. As you squat, imagine there is an invisible chair behind you, so as you squat to sit down on invisible chair, keep your glutes pushed out. Use the muscles in your hips and thighs to push yourself up; driving up through the heels and squeezing your glutes as you come up. Try to keep your head and chest up without arching your lower back. Always remember to breathe and engage your core muscles as you perform this exercise.

Tip: Some people find it hard to perform a squat correctly, I would recommend starting with strengthening your glutes with hip thrusters and foam rolling beforehand. Hip Thrusters can be performed with just bodyweight and some floor space. Start by laying down on your back, feet will be flat on the ground, knees in line with toes and now push your hips as high as you can while squeezing your glutes and hold this for a few seconds. After performing this a few times, you will feel your glutes working, if you feel your quadriceps or hamstrings working more than your glutes, just shuffle your feet in closer to your hips and that’ll correct your form.

Push Ups:
Pushups are a great exercise that works your chest and shoulder muscles and can be modified for any fitness level.

The most popular pushup is on the floor, start off lying face down on the floor, hands will be positioned next to your chest, feet together and knees together, squeeze your glutes and engage your core by rounding out your lower back, now push up while keeping your feet, knees together and glutes, core engaged and then slowly lower yourself down to the floor.

Tip: If pushups on the floor are a little tough for you, I would recommend either pushups resting on your knees or pushups on an incline such as a wall or a sturdy table, from here you’ll progress to floor pushups.

Planks:
A popular exercise that helps build core, shoulder, arms and legs strength. A plank tones your abs and builds strength in your upper body. Planks can help strengthen your core and lower body which can have a beneficial effect for people with lower back pain.

Start off in your push up position lying face down on the floor, glutes and core engaged, you can either push up from here or come up onto your elbows and hold this plank position for time.

Tip: For an easier variation of a plank, you can hold it on an incline similar to your pushups, so on a sturdy surface off the floor and then progress to holding a plank longer on the floor. Or another option is to hold a plank on resting on your knees instead of on your elbows or hands.

Always consult with your physician before trying any exercises or workout regime in or out of the gym.

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