Crossroads Fitness Blog

Crossroads Fitness Blog

Functional training preparation for daily activities

February 16, 2022

Think of the movements you go through every day: getting into and out of your car, reaching for an item on the top shelf at the grocery store or bending down to pick up a child. Most of the time, we don’t even think about these movements — until, that is, we can’t do them with ease.

This is where functional fitness exercises can help by training your muscles to handle everyday activities efficiently and safely.

Functional fitness training has become popular in training regimens. Personal trainers include this type of training in their client workouts. These types of exercises train your muscles to work together to simulate common movements. This is different from conventional strength training and working on isolated muscle groups.

Working a combination of muscle groups — your upper and lower body, for example — at the same time could duplicate the movement you make while lifting something off the floor. The exercise that might be performed for this movement would include a squat and then a bicep curl.

The body can perform seven basics movements: gait, hinge, lunge, pull, push, squat and rotate. All exercises constitute variations on these movements. In performing these movements, you’ll exercise all the major muscle groups of your body.

Functional fitness exercises concentrate not only on upper and lower muscle groups, but also the core muscles in your middle from Quick read more or view full article your chest to your pelvic bone. By strengthening core muscles, you gain flexibility and stability. As your core strengthens, your balance and posture improve. Strong core muscles reduce injuries, promote stability and improve overall health.

Functional fitness exercises are low impact and can be performed by almost everyone, from beginners to athletes. Step-ups and lunges focus on balance. Try a lunge where you step back instead of forward with hand weights. Develop core strength by performing sit-ups with a medicine ball you move from side to side.

Use such props as weights, kettle bells, fitness balls and aerobic steps. Many exercises can be performed without equipment, though, using only the resistance of your body weight.

Athletes often use these multi-joint and multi-muscle exercises are also used by athletes. Sports specific training can benefit from functional training as well.

Personal trainers often use a Bosu — both sides utilized — ball, which is rounded on one side and flat on the other. If you stand on the flat side, you must engage your core to retain balance. Moving a weighted medicine ball from one side of your body to the other while standing on the ball simulates the movement in a golf swing. This can be used for many other sports as well, such as basketball and hockey.

Functional fitness training offers numerous benefits.  Think of it as life training that creates a balance between your muscles and prepares you for your daily real life activities.

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Variety not only spices, but also improves, fitness

April 27, 2021

Variety is the spice of life. There’s some truth to the statement. You get stuck in your daily routine and complete many tasks without thinking about them. You eat at the same time, go to work at the same time and take out the garbage on the same day.

Think about your fitness routine. Are you doing the same exercises, going to the same class, walking on the same treadmill or lifting the same weight for every workout?  Maybe it’s time to change that routine.

Adding a little spice could turn what’s become a boring fitness routine into something more exciting and motivating.   Sometimes you hear the words “change” or “different” and associate them with “new” and “uncomfortable.” As creatures of habit, it’s okay to like your comfort zone with its familiar surroundings, people and activities.

Although doing exactly the same thing over and over might be comforting, it also could have drawbacks. Without variety, things can get pretty boring. It’s important to spice it up a bit.

Consider, for example, cross training. Cross training is simply combining two or more types of physical activities and offers one way to create the change you might need.

There are numerous benefits to adding cross training to your fitness routine. First and foremost is motivation. Keeping interested and motivated to exercise is an important piece. If Quick read more or view full article you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it.

Cross training can help you burn more calories by exercising regularly and using different muscle groups. You reduce the risk of injury by doing a variety of exercises — performing a high-impact sport like running one day followed by a yoga or Pilates class the next day, for example.

It’s simple to create a varied exercise program. Plan a complete workout that includes the three areas of physical activity: cardiovascular, strength and flexibility. Under each area, write down activities you like to do or would like to try. Some activities fit under more than one area.

Cardiovascular activities include jumping rope, riding a bike, running and walking the dog. Activities that build strength include everything from lifting weights and push-ups to yard work. Activities that promote flexibility include stretching and yoga.

Changing a routine can be beneficial in not only reducing boredom, but also increasing fitness. Our bodies are adaptive and grow accustomed to an exercise.
It becomes difficult to make changes in our bodies once they’ve adapted to a specific fitness routine. Because of this adaptive nature, it’s important to keep our bodies guessing by mixing up the exercises we perform.

How do you change your workouts? Try something new. Often times we get our minds set on what we think we can do instead of what we really could do if we tried.
If there’s a favorite exercise machine you use often and don’t want to give up, try changing the intensity, speed or grade. By gradually changing how hard you work, you’ll keep your workout challenging. Remember, though: When changing up your workout routine, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Once you choose your activities, schedule them. Allow for variety and flexibility. Experiment with different activities to find out what really interests you.

Continue to enjoy your favorite activities, but challenge yourself to try something new. Spice it up.

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Ready for a good workout? Then play ball

December 19, 2018

Fitness ball workouts are becoming increasingly popular — and for good reason. If you’re looking for an exercise that will challenge you, consider a workout using one of the many different types of fitness balls.  

There are traditional stability balls and BOSU balls as well as such weighted balls as medicine, slam or wall balls. Each ball has unique characteristics and specific uses.

Stability balls come in various sizes and are made of a soft rubber that are inflated.  They’re used to strengthen and tone, particularly the core muscles. It’s important to find a ball that fits so it can be used effectively.  They range in size from 30 centimeters in diameter for children up to 75 centimeters in diameter for taller adults.

One thing that makes stability balls so popular is they can be used both in the gym and at home — and even in the office as a desk chair. Physical therapists also use stability balls for rehabilitation.  Some exercises that can be performed using stability balls include ab crunches, back extensions and elbow planks. A trainer can demonstrate how to do a full body workout using a stability ball.

Have you ever seen the funny looking balls that look like they’ve been cut in half? This is called a BOSU ball. It was Quick read more or view full article invented by David Weck and includes an inflated rubber side attached to a ridged platform. BOSU stands for “both sides utilized” since different exercises can be performed on each side. BOSU balls often are used for balance training.  

You’ll also find a variety of weighted balls in a health club setting, including medicine balls, slam balls and wall balls.
Medicine balls come in a variety of sizes ranging from small to large with corresponding weights. Medicine balls have been used since ancient times to improve strength and muscular power.  Medicine balls can be used in a range of poses and exercises that strengthen every part of the body — from lifting to rotating.

A slam ball is a weighted sphere designed for throwing exercises. Slam balls are available in different sizes and weights. The shell is made of a tough rubber that can handle the impact of being thrown down on a hard surface. Use a slam ball to develop power, strength and speed. Abs and core specifically benefit. Exercises using a slam ball will increase heart rate, making it a great exercise for burning calories. An example of using a slam ball is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Then just slam the ball to the ground, pick it back up and repeat.  

A wall ball is similar to a slam ball, but used by throwing the ball up onto a wall and catching it on the way down into a squat.  This movement works the upper body on the throw and the lower body on the catch and squat as well as the entire core. This exercise also is good for cardio and gets the heart pumping.

It’s no wonder why fitness balls have become so popular. If you’re ready for the challenge, find the type, size and weight and then play ball.

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Kettlebells: Old device gains new following

September 23, 2014

Kettlebells might seem like a new fitness trend, but the concept is actually centuries old. 

This funny shaped weight resembles a cannonball with a handle and is often made of cast iron or steel. Kettlebells originated in Russia in the 1700s — although it wasn’t originally used for exercise, but rather for weighing crops. 

Kettlebells soon became part of physical training and conditioning programs throughout Russia and Europe, eventually making their way to the United States. Today, kettlebell training is used in gyms and fitness studios across the county.

To get a picture of what a kettlebell looks like, imagine a small bowling ball with a suitcase handle. This weight comes in a variety of sizes — from 

8 pounds to 97 pounds. They’re versatile, and most standard exercises can be performed with a kettlebell.  

Kettlebells offer advantages over barbells or dumbbells. This type of training is movement based, which means you’re using multiple muscle groups at the same time. This type of full-body conditioning teaches the body to work as one strong unit.  Another benefit of adding kettlebell training to your workout is that it saves time because you’re using multiple muscle groups at one time.

Kettlebells are good not only for only strength training, but also incorporate both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic — that is, with oxygen — is the same as a cardiovascular workout, like walking, swimming or bicycling. Anaerobic exercise — without oxygen — is a workout that is a quick, high-intensity exercise, Quick read more or view full article similar to a sprint. 

With the burst of energy needed to perform the exercises with numerous repetitions, it’s guaranteed to raise your heart rate. With increased heart rate and higher repetitions, you can add fat loss to the list of benefits. 

Allen Russell, a trainer at Crossroads Fitness in Grand Junction, talks about using kettlebells. “When used properly, kettlebells activate the kinetic chain — that is, the natural sequence in which muscles are designed to fire — very effectively. In addition to the strength benefits, research has shown that the physiological effects upon the body following the kettlebell swing make it an excellent exercise for anyone to perform.”  

In addition to many athletes, kettlebells appeal to people of all fitness levels and genders. Said Russell: “I find that kettlebells are easily adaptable across most ability levels, depending upon the exercise, to meet the specific individual needs of the majority of my clients.”   

There are many movements performed with kettlebells.  The most common is the swing. Other movements include clean, jerk, snatch and row. Because kettlebell training uses high repetitions, you should start slowly to build muscle strength and endurance.  If done improperly, the movements used in kettlebell exercise can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems. Technique is very important in kettlebell training and should be taught by a skilled trainer to insure proper form. In-person instruction helps to maximize the benefits while ensuring a safe workout.

This “not so new” concept of kettlebell training has become the fitness rage. This training consists of advantageous benefits that include combining cardiovascular and strength training, increased balance and flexibility and weight loss. 

Kettlebell training is an effective and fun method of training to add to your workout.

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Strength training path to a better life

April 23, 2014
In the quest for a high quality of life and independent living, consistent strength training is a pathway that leads us to that goal. Did you know that adults lose 5 pounds to 7 pounds of muscle mass every decade after age 20?  

Consequently, strength training is important for everyone at every age. But strength training is more than creating muscle that helps us look better, it’s also about providing life-changing benefits.

Let’s back up a bit and review anatomy 101.  There are more than 600 muscles in the human body. These muscles do everything from pump blood throughout your body to kick a soccer ball. Muscles are a type of elastic tissue that resembles a rubber band and are comprised of thousands of small fibers.  There are different kinds of muscles, but we will concentrate on the skeletal muscles. These are the muscles that work with your bones to give your body power and motion.

There are some amazing benefits to lifting weights. Weight loss and weight control have a direct link to strength training.  When you increase your muscle mass, your metabolic rate increases. Even after lifting weights, your muscles keep working and burn more calories. Other health benefits include a decrease in the risk of osteoporosis by increasing body density, lower blood pressure and slower aging.

Not only does strength training help to tone our muscles to provide a fitter, healthy looking body, but it also improves our posture. Everyday activities become Quick read more or view full article easier through increased balance, stability and coordination.  When you think about getting in and out of a car, reaching for an item on the top shelf of a grocery isle or pushing a lawnmower, all of these things are related to keeping our muscular system strong.

Strength training can be performed in a variety of ways.  Some examples include using free weights, circuit machines, resistance bands, functional fitness and strength classes.

Free weights are just that — individual hand weights or weight bars you can lift in a number of ways. You can use hand weights in a bicep curl or shoulder press, for example. Circuit machines allow you to work different muscle groups, changing the weight and machine adjustments to fit your body and strength level. It could be helpful to work with a trainer to make sure you’re using the appropriate weight and proper form.  

Resistance bands provide strength training in engaging your muscles in both directions — the pull and release.  The amount of resistance depends on the type of band and how it’s used.

Functional fitness training involves using many different types of equipment in ways that mimic everyday movements.  Many of these movements use only your own body weight for resistance. Such structured fitness classes as yoga, Pilates and Bodypump® engage and strengthen your muscles.

Consistency is the most important aspect in strength training.  Aim for two to three times a week, resting for 48 hours in between workouts to allow your muscles to heal. Include upper body, lower body and core exercises to make sure you’re working your entire body. Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.  

Quality of life is what we all strive for. It’s never too late to begin strength training. Every one of us at any age needs to work on increasing our muscle mass and bone density. Strength training gives us many benefits to accomplish a healthy lifestyle and independence.  Read Less
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