Why are farmhands typically agile, lean, and muscular? Every day they execute physical activities necessary to complete the chores around the farm...or any physically demanding workplace.
It's a daily dose of functional fitness.
When you perform these functional motions correctly, you build strength and virtually eliminate the possibility of injury. With regular training you are more likely to apply the proper movements when picking up a box, cleaning the yard, or taking groceries in the house.
At the Gym Downtown, we focus on functional training in our fitness classes. Here's a set of recently completed exercises, each fully scalable for all ability levels.
1. Stepping with Weight
You climb different heights of steps and carry varying amounts of weight. The ability to step down stably is just as important as stepping up. The glutes and the front and back of the quads carry the load. The smaller muscles connected to the knee joints become more robust, increasing the stability of the movement.
2. Farmer's Carry
Imagine picking up buckets of water in each hand, or your grandkids for that matter. This form of carrying can be equal or unequal weight in each arm. It requires strength in your upper core, grip, shoulders, and legs for stepping forward and backward.
3. Weighted Ball Toss
Tossing isn't used so frequently in the workplace due to safety precautions; however, if you want to move a lot of split logs, hay bails, boxes (you name it) tossing and catching is the fastest form of transfer. This technically executed exercise builds core strength while feeling the burn in your shoulders, chest, and lower body.
4. Sledgehammer Strikes
This full-body exercise is rarely used today due to machines that chop wood and demolish structures with a slight wrist motion. It requires coordination and significant strength in the arms, core, back, and legs to swing the hammer, striking the same spot. Switching sides of the body is extremely beneficial neurologically and is a good example of how exercise keeps us younger mentally.
5. Ladder Drills
Fancy footwork is not just for athletes and dancers. Quickly pivoting with your feet in multiple directions reduces the chances of tripping and falling in daily life. These drills increase the coordination of leg muscles (including smaller muscles for lateral motions) by training your brain with new and beneficial patterns of movement.
6. Rope Pull
Just like pulling up a bucket from the well, the hand-over-hand motion isolates each arm for building strength in your grip, biceps, and upper back. Proper form improves posture and reduces the potential for strain.