Functional Strength is a fitness buzz word of late and if your goal is to train your body to be stronger in your daily activities (whether it be sport performance or lifting up your kids), get off the heavy, static gym equipment and check out this list of essentials.
Not only are these items affordable (prices range from $12 to $250), they challenge your body in different movement planes, offer varying degrees of intensity, promote balance, improve core strength and increase flexibility. There are an infinite number of exercises one can do with each individual piece, let alone all 9! Check out my favorites and create your very own functional strength training gym at home.
1. TRX – These durable suspension training straps can be anchored in several places including a door jamb. By varying the length of the straps, your body position and angle, you can increase or decrease the difficulty level for tons of traditional and creative body weight exercises.There are less expensive versions out there but I think the original TRX is well made, easy to use and will last you a long time!
2. Jump Rope – An easy way to raise your heart rate, break a sweat and burn calories. Try adding intervals some jump rope intervals to your strength routine to boost your metabolism.
3. Pull up bar– P90x and Crossfit have helped resurrect the pull up bar at home. Pull ups, inverted sit ups, hanging leg raises may be old school (and pretty hard core) but remain a great way to train multiple muscle groups at once. I’d argue that 10 pull ups are more beneficial to building core strength than 100 crunches. A pull up bar also serves as a place to anchor resistance bands and TRX as well as a give yourself some hanging spinal traction. Can’t do a body weight pull up? See the superband below…
4. Superband – This is a giant rubber band that will change your life. I use these for a multitude of corrective exercises (lateral band walks are a fave) and offer a plethora of ways to challenge every muscle group. Loop it from your pull up bar, place your knee in the band and increase your reps on pull ups with less momentum!
5. Stability ball – Who doesn’t love these? Useful for strength training, core work and flexibility, a ball is a multipurpose essential that every home gym needs. Bonus: replacing your desk chair with one is a no-brainer way to improve your posture. Sit up straight (just like mom always said) or fall off.
6. BOSU – The acronym stands for “both sides up” and because you can stand, sit, lay on either the inflatable dome or the flat side, opportunities to challenge your core, balance and stability are endless!
7. Stretch strap – None of us take the time we should to stretch and we’re doing ourselves a disservice. Muscle flexibility is a key component to fitness and without it, you increase the risk of injury and may not be getting all the benefits of strength training if range of motion is limited.
8. Foam roller–Useful both before and after a workout, foam rolling allows for self myofascial release. This helps break up adhesions which can impede proper muscle recruitment leading to overuse injuries and pain. The IT band is one of the most common and beneficial areas to roll and can help reduce knee pain.
9. Glider disk – I’m a little biased here because a glider, like TRX and a stability ball, can be used to recreate Pilates reformer exercises. Slow controlled movements challenge muscles both concentric and eccentrically and can up the ante of even the most basic move.
Check out myworkouts for ideas on incorporating these items into your fitness routine!