How to Understand the Importance of Functional Exercises

By Michael Hinckley

You like to work out, but notice that your larger biceps and pectoral muscles do not seem to translate into farther drives on the golf course. You might be tempted to think you are doing something wrong and adjust your swing or even buy new clubs. But in reality, you just need to understand the utility of "functional exercises" and how seemingly minor changes in your work out habits can make you a better, more powerful golfer.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Step 1
Use free weights instead of machines. When using a work out system like Nautilus or Bowflex, your movements are restricted and controlled. By using free weights your movements are subject to pressure, gravity, balance, and a host of other factors. In other words, free weights give you a more "real world," or functional, workout.
Step 2
Use natural movements. Functional workouts try to replicate movements that you would do on a daily, or at least regular, basis. For example, if you wanted a stronger swing, a functional exercise routine would use swing-like exercises to strengthen all of the dozen or so muscles involved in a swing, not just your biceps, triceps, and pectoral muscles that regular work outs focus on.
Step 3
Emphasize stability. One of the problems which can crop up while playing golf is a torn muscle, damaged ligament, or torn rotator cuff. Functional exercises also focus on stability and balance. If one super-strong muscle is counterbalanced by a weaker muscle, your motion is unbalanced and injury is more likely. If, however, strong muscle is countering strong muscle, there is less ancillary damage caused by the limb's movement.
Step 4
Concentrate on aerobic exercises. Functional exercises focus on aerobic, that is calorie-burning, exercises. While it is true that muscles burn more calories than fat, workouts which focus on bulk are anaerobic and do not burn as many calories as a functional work out does.

Tips & Warnings

Find a personal trainer who focuses on functional exercising to get the most out of your workout.

About The Author

Michael Hinckley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in US history from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Arts degree in Middle East history from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Hinckley is conversant in Arabic, and is a part-time lecturer at two Midwestern universities.

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