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Why Functional Training Is Important

Want to Get Fitter Than Ever? Add This 1 Component to Your Workout Routine

If you've got your workout schedule locked in, it's easy to just go through the motions and forget about making any changes to it. Although strength training is an essential part of your fitness program that you shouldn't overlook, there might be something missing from your traditional weightlifting program, especially if you want to achieve a high level of fitness.

POPSUGAR spoke with Aubrey Marcus, founder and CEO of Onnit, health and wellness expert, and author of Own the Day, Own Your Life, who expressed enthusiasm about the emphasis in the fitness world on encouraging women to be stronger in the gym. "The strong woman is in right now, and I think that's a beautiful thing," he said. However, he still believes we're lacking something crucial when it comes to strength training — multi-planar, rotational functional training.

"It's still not about the inner health, how the body moves, and what the functionality is," Aubrey told POPSUGAR. "It's more about how big the booty is and what the aesthetics purely look like, and a lot of the workouts, the food, and everything is geared toward the looks, not how well they move."

We're all guilty of falling prey to the aesthetics-based fitness programs. We're human after all — and what human doesn't want a nice ass? But you can still grow your booty while simultaneously working on other functional movements that will help you build endurance, improve your cardiovascular health, and strengthen and protect your joints.

"Can they play on the beach? Can they chase after their dog? Can they do things that make a life worthwhile?"
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Although a lot of basic weightlifting (squats, deadlifts, pushes, presses, etc.) are certainly part of functional training, it's a good idea to move your body in more than one particular plane, which is what inherently happens if you only do bilateral weightlifting.

Aubrey says he sees a lot of women who are strong and look good, but they can't really do much else than lift weights, because that's all they work on. "Can they play on the beach? Can they chase after their dog? Can they do things that make a life worthwhile?" he asked. "Or are they purely working on the aesthetics of looking good? I think that's where the pitfalls [in the fitness world] currently lie." In addition to strength training, he recommends improving your abilities to run fast, jump high, rotate safely, etc. Doing more of these full-body, explosive movements your body was meant to do will also prevent you from future injuries.

More specifically, Aubrey recommends things like sprinting and doing various work with battle ropes. Eric Leija, primal.swoledier on Instagram and senior kettlebell coach at Onnit, told POPSUGAR that kettlebell flow is another great addition to your weightlifting program.

"A kettlebell flow essentially is a combination of individual kettlebell movements pieced together into a seamless 'flow' or routine," Eric explained. "An example of this would be sequencing a kettlebell clean, swing, and snatch, then repeating the movements in this order for a given amount of time or repetitions."

"It's important to learn when to be strong and when to be fluid while maintaining integrity in your structure."

Flows like this increase your endurance and coordination, and they give your body the chance to move in completely different ways. Aubrey says many of the "multi-functional movements" they do at Onnit, whether it's a barbell complex or a steel mace flow, provide "rotational power and open the shoulder girdle." Eric added, "It's important to learn when to be strong and when to be fluid while maintaining integrity in your structure."

If you're looking to get strong, increase your fitness, and just feel good from head to toe, consider adding these movements to your strength-training routine. Your body will be much happier in the long run.

Image Source: Franz Steiner Photography
Product Credit: Model @jessiegraffpwr
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