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Muscular strength and endurance are important perquisites for optimal health and well-being. Unfortunately the cost of joining a gym is often a barrier or an excuse for individuals who are not performing resistance training.
Gym fees can be expensive and the travelling back and forth to the gym could be deemed as redundant time – that could be used more effectively elsewhere.
Therefore a cost effective and convenient alternative to going to the gym and exercising in front of strangers could be exercising at home. This can be achieved with minimal equipment and the use of calisthenics or bodyweight exercises.
Many fitness professionals are big fans of using calisthenics to improve functional strength and fitness.
What is functional strength?
Functional fitness involves training for activities that we perform in our daily schedules and they copy the movements that we execute at home, during work or when doing chores.
Developing strength has a functional benefit in that it makes daily living easier and you can perform movements with less stress being placed on the body.
Each of the exercises in terms of functional strength concentrates on more than one body part to produce some compound movements e.g. a squat with an overhead reach, as this replicates daily movements and works muscles together that are used in daily manouerves.
By utilising more functional compound movements during the home training sessions will be a catalyst for your daily movements being more energy efficient whilst less stress and burden is being placed on the musculoskeletal system.
The strength exercises used should incorporate all of the body’s different movement planes, a variety of angles and this builds up the stabilisers as well as the main muscle groups.
Some of the exercises will activate the posterior kinetic chain; this is an important group of muscles, tendons and ligaments that run up the back of your body. They aid with coordination, balance, muscular strength, muscle power and of course posture.
Therefore functional strength has the following benefits:
- Daily tasks are easier because you have strength gains and you are more conditioned
- Musculoskeletal and joint function is vastly improved
- It improves the range of motion at all of major joints within the body
- It boosts your quality of life and helps to prevent injuries
- Increases your basal metabolic rate and helps with weight maintenance
- It develops your core and other body stabilizers
The role of the core
The use of bodyweight exercises is an excellent strategy for copying daily movements. The use of additional equipment such a Swiss ball can utilise a huge variety of bodyweight exercises whilst engaging your core fully.
Core strength is vital for all basic movements and this has the following impact on your performance and health:
- It boosts your body’s capability to fully stabilize itself by activating the abdominals, hip flexors and shoulders
- It aids balance, stability and posture
- A boost in core stability equates to gains in core strength
- Reduces the risk of many musculoskeletal injuries e.g. lower back pain
The Home Essentials
Having a safe space
This is the first essential on the list and you should have enough space at home to allow you to perform the exercises with a full range of motion without any hazards in the way.
If there are any hazards in the way then clear the decks ready to start your home workouts. Although it may seem trivial by making your space safe and ready for purpose is a great way of getting your mind set ready for the hard work ahead!
Ok this is subjective to your budget limit and how high or low tech that you want your exercise equipment to be.
However to begin all you need to keep you fully engaged are some dumbbells and a Swiss Ball as these are excellent add-ons to any calisthenics routine. If you really want to push the boat out you could invest in a pull up bar or you use the climbing frame at the local park to begin with.
You will be surprised how you can adapt some items at home to help you to exercise. A good example of this notion is a chair for tricep dips and kick outs and the bottom step of your stair case for step ups with dumbbells.