Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Movements we need to think about as we Age

Functional Movements
'Functional' is often used in the world of fitness these days - the 'buzz' word of the moment. The actual meaning of the word functional, 'designed to be practical and useful, rather than attractive'. This being the ideal description for our ageing bodies......from young and attractive to moving on in years......So yes, we really need our bodies to be practical and useful. The term 'functional training' is just that.......'fine tune' certain moves, so that our bodies will become 'practical and useful' long into our latter years. Functional training is a must as we get older, as it is designed to train and develop our muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities such as reaching the top shelf, getting out of the bath or chair with ease and the ability to carry our weekly shop without issues.

What is Functional Training
Firstly......what are the functional moves that will help us obtain full movement and engage all our muscle groups to help our bodies cope with the ageing process? The moves are very simple and mimic our everyday lives....it is as simple as that. 5 fundamental moves.

  1. Squat
  2. Hinge
  3. Push
  4. Pull
  5. Loaded Carries
  1. Squat - The action of sitting down - From a standing position to a seated position and back to a standing position
  2. Hinge - The action of a hip movement whereby the hip movement is the prime mover rather than the knee. For example a bow, where the legs are straight while maintaining a flat spine.
  3. Push - The action of pushing only, for example pushing a shopping trolley
  4. Pull - The action of pulling only, for example opening a door towards us.
  5. Loaded Carries - Lifting an object/objects with good form and moving for a set distance - for example, two shopping bags or moving large boxes overhead and placing them on a high level.
If we work on these movements daily by using various everyday objects to hand or using weights and resistance bands, we will benefit greatly by developing strength, balance, mobility and thus decreasing our chances of injury or damage to our muscles and joints.

1.Sit to Stand progression to Squat
The squat can be performed from a chair with progression to a full squat. Try this for 30 seconds and see how many you can do. You will feel the muscles working in the thighs and bottom (quads and glutes). This exercise is also a good cardio workout so if you feel out of breath, you can rest before your 30 seconds are up. Work on improving the length of time you can perform this exercise. 

2. Hinge - Glute Bridge
The glute brige is a hinge exercise that strengthens the hips and bottom. Squeeze you bottom and tummy muscles as you raise your hips, until your shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line and hold for 2-3 seconds. As you lower your hips, make sure your movement is controlled and repeat. Continue this move for 15 to 25 repetitions in a controlled movement. Your form and controlled movements are required rather than speed for this exercise.

3.Push - Overhead/Shoulder Press
The Shoulder press is a push exercise. This can be performed seated or standing. You can use bottles of water or dumbbells (if you have some at home). Make sure that this exercise is performed with control both on the push and the return to the starting position. 15 to 25 repetitions. Once you feel comfortable and able to repeat 15 to 25 repetitions, then rest for 30 seconds before trying again. Perform another set of 15-25, for a total of 3 sets of 15-25 repetitions.

4. Pull - Bicep Curl/Hammer
The bicep curl or hammer is a pull exercise. This can be performed seated or standing, with water bottles or dumbbells (if you have some at home). Make sure you perform this exercise with control on the lift and return. Make sure that you squeeze your tummy muscles (abdominal muscles also known as engaging the core muscles) on the lift. Make sure that your elbows are tucked in at the waist and do not move throughout this exercise so that the bicep muscle is used and not the shoulder. 15 to 25 repetitions. Once you feel comfortable and able to repeat 15 to 25 repetitions, then rest for 30 seconds before trying again.Perform another set of 15-25, for a total of 3 sets of 15-25 repetitions.

5. Loaded Carry
Loaded carries consist of carrying a piece of equipment or pieces of equipment for example, two dumbbells or two bags of potatoes and walking for a pre-determined distance with good posture. By simply doing this, you will build muscle, strength, stamina and re-train proper movement patterns. You will also find an improvement in your grip strength and core stability. Remember to use a squat stance and straight back, pushing through your heals when you pick up your weighted pieces. Do not bend your spine and round your shoulders as this may cause injury when lifting weighted equipment from the floor. 

Functional training is definitely something we should be thinking about as we age. Core stability, balance, mobility and good posture have so many health benefits as well as helping to prevent injuries. Each of the 5 exercises above mimic our everyday movements and keep our bodies 'fine tuned' to accomplish our daily tasks. Performing these moves and exercises regularly will keep us on the path of preserving our independence for many years to come. Always remember to warm up before exercise and stretch after exercise to prevent injury and increase flexibility and mobility. Please refer to my article which explains why it is important to warm up and cool down. There are some great routines and exercises that you can use to help warm up and cool down your muscles. When and Why we Should Stretch

Warm up and cool down routines - Hasfit.com - warm up and cool down


  1. Another excellent article. A very interesting read

  2. Thank you one again Mark.....I appreciate your comments very much


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