Daily exercise not only leads to stronger bones, more energy and a better mood but it also greatly increases the likelihood that we can maintain our independence and perform everyday tasks with ease as we age.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 percent of adults aged 65 and older are limited in their ability to perform basic actions, like picking something up off the floor or reaching to grab a cereal box from the pantry.”

At TP, we ensure that the exercises you do in your workouts also mimic the movements in your everyday tasks. These movements are known as functional movements and incorporating them into your workouts is known as functional training. Something we believe is critical, and crucial for a long, active life.

All movement includes 5 primary movement patterns: hip-hinge, single-leg, push, pull, and rotation. These patterns translate into the specific exercises below. Work thru them and if you can’t do one, no worries – there are always modifications and you can work up to the ones you find challenging. We are also here to help you with form and to answer any questions. What’s important is that you keep working at them so you get stronger and can maintain your independence as you age. After all, if you don’t use them, you’ll eventually lose them.

FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT #1: SQUAT – Hip-hinging or squatting movements are a movement we perform multiple times throughout our day: sitting down as you get in the car, standing up as you get out of the car; using the restroom, sitting down and standing from a table or out of a chair when watching TV, or bending down to pick up something you’ve dropped.

To squat: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Keeping your core tight, chest lifted, and weight evenly distributed between the balls of feet and heels lower down, as if sitting in a chair. Lower until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor, trying not to let your knees travel too far forward past the toes or cave in. Push through your feet to return to standing. Start with 1 set of 10 reps and work up to 3 sets.

Progression:  you can add standing hip hinges or glute bridges as well. These exercises increase hip mobility and effectively train the hinging movement that’s key to performing a proper squat.

FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT #2: LUNGE – Whenever you walk or climb up stairs, you’re essentially performing a modified single leg lunge.

To lunge: Take a big step forward with one leg, and slowly lower your body until front thigh is parallel to floor (knee is at a 90-degree angle). Make sure that your front knee doesn’t extend far past your toes and weight is 70% in the front leg. Pause, then press through your front leg and foot to return to standing. Repeat on the opposite side. Start with 1 set of 10 on one side and then repeat on the other side. Work up to 3 sets of 10.

If that’s too hard or you can’t maintain your balance – use a chair, pole or place one hand on the wall.

FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT #3: PUSHUP – When you push something away from your body, lift your grandchild in the air, or put up your groceries you use the same muscles you do in a push-up.

Try do a push-up: Start in full plank position, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Keep your core tight and head aligned with spine. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor.  Pause, then press through your hands to return to start making sure to keep the belly in and your low back straight. Start with 1 set of 10 and work up to 3 sets of 10 reps.

If you need something easier you can put your hands on a stable bench or chair or you can also perform a push-up standing up on a wall.  Take your chest to the wall and then push away.

FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT #4: ROW – Anytime you pick something up or pull something to you (door, chair, etc.) you are performing a row. By being able to push as well as pull you are creating a sense of balance among the muscles in your body.

To perform a row: Anchor a tube around a pole or sturdy banister at elbow-height. Make sure your anchor won’t move when you pull against it. Firmly plant your feet and pull the band straight back until your hands reach the sides of your ribs while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Return to the start position. You can also perform rows with a cable machine at the gym. Start with 1 set of 10 and work up to 3 sets of 10 reps.

FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT #5: WOOD CHOP – Think of being out in the yard chopping wood before it snows. You perform this movement more than you think – putting on a seatbelt to playing tennis or golf.  It is important that we be able to rotate.

To perform a wood chop: Start in a semi-squat position, with your feet hip-width apart. Keep a tall spine and Inhale as you twist to the left so your hands are outside of your left leg. As you exhale, lift arms diagonally across your body, ending twisted to the right with arms above your head. Pivot on your left foot as needed. Try to move with control rather than momentum. Start with 1 set of 10 and work up to 3 sets of 10 reps. Do 1 set of 10 and work up to 3 sets of 10 reps on both sides.

If you have back problems please check with your physician before attempting wood chops.

And as always, we’re here to help so just ask us if you have any questions or don’t understand a movement in the post.

ACE Fitness