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7 Ways Functional Movements Are More Beneficial Than Exercise Machines

As functional fitness has become more and more mainstream, the fitness world – and gyms – have had to evolve to keep up. Research has shown that whole-body, multi-joint movements and high intensity workouts are extremely effective, as we discussed in our previous post.  Still, the appeal of exercise machines such as the elliptical, the stairmaster, and a plethora of other resistance machines, remains for many. Machines are easy, and routine. You can set your pace on the elliptical or treadmill and read a book or zone out listening to music. Some gyms even have movie theatres where you can plop yourself on your elliptical for an hour or so while watching an old favorite on the big screen, and leave feeling like you did a great workout for yourself. Simply said, machines make working out easy.

But working out isn’t supposed to be easy.

If we’re looking for easy, aren’t we missing the point? It’s called “working out” because it’s work. It can be fun, and I’m all about making fitness fun, but it shouldn’t be easy. Working out should, if done effectively, be challenging and stimulating to mind and body. That’s how you reach your optimal health, and your health and fitness goals, not by doing what’s easy or monotonous. Here are 7 Ways Functional Movements are More Beneficial Than Exercise Machines:

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  1. Mindfulness. Zoning out isn’t an option when you’re moving and working your body in the most effective ways. In fact, zoning out can lead to stress and injury. Functional fitness requires you to be mindful and to pay attention to your body, the mechanics of the movements, your form and your level of intensity. Being present leads to stress reduction and improved overall physically and mental health.
  2. You can do it anywhere. One of the reasons the functional fitness movement has caught on is because, let’s face it, Americans want convenience. Using free weights, or even better – body weight movements – is convenient. You don’t need to be tied to a gym or a bulky machine to get a great workout. You can literally do functional movements anytime, anywhere. That’s why they’re functional, duh.
  3. They are functional. It’s worth repeating. Functional movements are functional. Thats means they are exercises that translate to everyday activities and movements. With these movements, your body moves in three dimensions, which is how your body moves in daily life. Machines on the other hand, do not. Machines force us to move on the path of machines, rather than on the path of our bodies.
  4. Man making burpees during strength training in gym.More muscles are engaged. Through functional fitness exercises, the whole body is engaged, and more muscles are working to stabilize the weight. Machines on the other hand tend to focus more on larger muscle groups, ignoring some of the other muscles necessary for stabilizing, which can result in injury.
  5. More efficient. Functional fitness is more efficient than working out with machines. A 5-10 minute functional fitness workout can be more beneficial (and yes, burn more calories) even than an hour on an elliptical machine.
  6. They stimulate the mind. Just as functional movements work the whole body, they also work the mind. The mind and body work together to move through the exercises and various movements. Functional fitness workouts are constantly varied and high intensity, making them fun and intellectually stimulating too.
  7. It’s how our bodies were meant to move. We weren’t created to rely on machines to move our bodies. It’s really that simple. Functional fitness allows our bodies to move the way they are supposed to move, and to do movements that keep our bodies functioning optimally, despite our culture of sitting and minimizing movement. It’s a way of allowing our bodies to do what they naturally do best, and we are often surprised by what our bodies can do when given this freedom!

Curious and ready to try Functional Fitness for yourself? Contact us  to try our online functional fitness services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session!

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Compound/Multi-joint Exercises and 6 Reasons Why You Want to Do Them

Compound/Multi-joint Exercises and 6 Reasons Why You Want to Do Them

What are Compound Exercises?

Compound exercises, or multi-joint movements, involve more than one joint and muscle group at a time, as opposed to an isolation exercise, or single-joint movement, which only works one muscle/joint at a time. Compound exercises are an important part of any exercise routine for several reasons. In this post we’ll explore how these simple exercises can benefit you, and we’ve included a short instructional video to get you started!

Benefits of Compound/Multi-joint Exercises

1. Functional. Compound exercises help strengthen your body the way it actually works in real life. These exercises simulate daily multi-joint tasks such as picking up your child, shoveling snow, vacuuming, and going up and down stairs.

2. High Intensity and Effective. Compound exercises are intense, because of multiple muscles and joints that are being used. This intensity makes the exercises more effective as well, at gaining strength and lean muscle mass, losing body fat and weight loss, and overall health.

3. Efficient. Challenging multi-joint exercises do not require a lot of time to be effective. Done at a high intensity, these exercises can take your health and fitness to a new level, even with 5-10 minutes a day!

4. Burn more calories. According to The American Council on Exercise, “the body expends 5 calories of energy to consumer 1 liter of oxygen. Exercises that involve more muscle tissue require more oxygen, which helps the body increase its net energy expenditure.” In other words, coupons exercises burn a lot of calories, fast.

5. Improve heart health. Single-joint exercises such as
biceps curls use only a limited amount of muscle tissue; In contrast, compound exercises that involve large amounts of muscle tissue, challenge the heart to pump thus increasing cardiovascular strength.

6. Dynamic Flexibility. Yes, compound exercises can actually make you flexible! When paired with a few yoga postures following each workout, multi-joint exercises can help alleviate muscle tightness and misalignment. The American Council on Exercise says “exercise that involves an active range of motion can be considered a form of dynamic stretching, which involves moving a joint through a range of motion to lengthen the surrounding tissue…Over the course of a number of repetitions, the contractions and activity in the involved muscles elevate the temperature and inhibit activity, which reduces tension and improves length.”

Some examples of compound exercises include
-squats
-push press
-thrusters
-kettle bell swings
-burpees
-lunges

Here is a quick video of Japheth demonstrating a 5min workout to get you started.

As with any workout regimen, it’s important that you get proper training by a certified professional. Contact Water and Rock Studio today to help take your health/fitness to a whole new level with compound exercises!