You are already an animal, so you might as well become a beast! Whether that idea appeals to you or not you should at least consider the importance of being able to move like you are meant to in your most primal way.
We, as a species are specifically meant to be able to move in certain ways from an instinctual, survival standpoint. We are meant to run, climb, jump, swim, get back up from a fall, and even fight (don’t go picking one) just to name a few. All of the other fun and fancy types of training are great, but typically goal specific.
Take bodybuilding for example; Bodybuilding training requires a whole lot of bilateral (two sides doing the same thing at a time) resistance training that isolates one or two muscle groups at a time with the goal of adding muscle mass to look bigger and more defined. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but our natural functional movement patterns require most, if not all, of our muscle groups to work together at the same time. So, training as a bodybuilder only, won’t exactly make you functional or athletic. Now, if someone were to show me a bodybuilder that also added all kinds of functional training into his or her routine, I would show you a beast!
So, what is functional training? Well, besides the things listed above, a lot of what is considered functional training consists of compound unilateral (one side at a time) movements that require balance, focus, stability, agility, and mimic a situation that might come up in your everyday life. Like a lunge for example. If you can walk or like to run, you’ll spend everyday of your life moving unilaterally at some point, or contralaterally (opposite sides of upper and lower body) if you consider the swinging of your opposite arm with each step. I’ve yet to meet someone that can walk or run with two feet at the same time! However, not all functional movements are unilateral. There are absolutely functional bilateral movements too, like a push-up or a bodyweight squat for example.
Circling back to the lunge; Consider the importance and functionality of this movement if you are someone that has a small child or toddler that suddenly stepped into the street with oncoming traffic because you let go of their hand to push the cross button and were carrying groceries in the other hand. You would need to drop those groceries and lunge after your kid to snatch him or her away from danger. I don’t mean to be grim but this definitely could happen to anyone and you’d want to be sure that if you found yourself in a similar situation you’d have the capability to perform this movement quickly and effectively.
Here’s an example of quick functional bodyweight workout you can try that you can do anywhere, anytime in less than 10 minutes!
Using these 3 movements, set a timer for 9 Tabata rounds (20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest) Squat Jumps
20 seconds Rest 10 seconds Push-ups 20 seconds Rest
10 seconds Alternating Forward Lunges 20 seconds Rest 10 seconds
Go through all 9 rounds of Tabata so you do each movement 3 times. Rest for 60-90 seconds then do it all again 1 more time!