NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Thomas’s Corner: Functional Training Series (Part 1)

ThinkstockPhotos-523032469-2.jpgWhat Is Functional Training?

The term functional training is a mainstay in the current fitness/wellness vernacular, but what is it? In lay terms, it is training that supports movements that are performed in everyday life outside the gym, or that are naturally occurring movement patterns (whether or not you use them).

Where You See Functional Training

You encounter functional training anytime you are walking, running, pushing, pulling, twisting, or bending (almost every movement!). As Mike Blume, Athletic Performance Trainer at NIFS, puts it, “Functional training improves our activities of daily living (ADLs), which will then help us get through each day easier.” This improved quality of life could affect something as simple as tying your shoes, to playing with your children on the floor, to carrying your groceries to your second-floor apartment.

Choosing the Right Functional Training Movements

Not all functional training exercises are created equal. We find that exercises that are more specific or have a greater “transfer effect” can have a greater overall impact on the participant going as far as increased brain/muscle motor control). Exercises that are on the other end of the spectrum have a lower overall impact, however.

Preventing Functional Training Injury

We find the difficulty and complexity of an exercise must be taken into consideration and may be detrimental to a person’s health and wellness if they are not physically capable of performing the movement correctly. We all know that there is nothing functional about injury due to inexperience or physical limitation. See a NIFS fitness instructor or personal trainer to discuss functional training and how it applies to your workout level.

In part 2 of this two-part series, I'll look at lifting techniques for functional training.

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood. For more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: Thomas' Corner running walking functional training muscles range of motion flexibility

Mobility: Why Strength Training Is More Than Just Weightlifting

Strength training is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and I couldn’t be more excited about that. It can benefit everyone in some way. Now that we are all started down the right track, I would like to offer some more in-depth advice on an aspect of strength training that is overlooked: mobility.

Strength and Mobility Go Hand in Hand

Mobility.jpgMany people shy away from lifting weights because they think it will make them “big and bulky.” To bring a little more clarity to that notion, please see this blog post. However, strength and mobility should not be thought of as separate ideas. “Strength” can mean many things. To me, strength is not just about one certain lift or exercise. Sure, there are some competitions that measure just three lifts, but that is its own little niche. I think that for anyone who is not a competitive powerlifter or weightlifter, strength has to be applied to all forms of movement.

There are five major categories of movement, which are squatting movements, hip-hinging movements, pressing, pulling, and “other” (such as isokinetic movements—for example, a plank). All of these movement patterns should be strengthened in a strength training program (barring any limiting injuries).

Before I get too far off topic, let’s get back to our main focus: mobility. Mobility, like all of the different movement patterns, is another aspect of strength training. It is impossible to be all-around strong without being mobile. You may be able to put up some respectable numbers on a few different lifts, but if you neglect mobility, that will come back to haunt you. Strength training is great, but over time it can cause muscle tightness, and even limited range of motion if muscle growth is substantial. This can be countered by putting time and effort into working on mobility.

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

IMG_2714_2.jpgThe Functional Movement Screen was developed to help determine whether an individual is at risk for an injury. What it also assists in doing is locating mobility issues. The tests that are included in the FMS were specifically chosen to test the areas that are most commonly associated with limited mobility. Not only does the FMS pinpoint areas that need some work, but it also gives exercises that can improve on your deficiency. The truth is that everyone is unique, and everyone’s exercises should be, too.

Here are a few examples of what might be included in your FMS corrective exercise list:

  • Single Leg Lowering: While lying face up on a mat, bring your feet together and lay your hands down at your sides. Bring both legs up as far as possible while keeping them totally straight. Slowly lower one leg at a time, still keeping it straight, and try to get your leg all the way to the floor. Bring the lowered leg back up slowly and then switch legs.
  • Lumbar Locked T-Spine Rotation: Start by sitting with your shins on the ground and sit back onto your heels. Grab the back of your neck with one hand, and put the other hand on the ground straight in front of you. Without moving your hips, take the arm that is grabbing your neck and try to point that elbow up toward the ceiling without removing the hand from your neck. Hold at the top for one second, then bring the elbow back down and in toward the opposite-side knee. Repeat for the other side.

Everyone is unique when it comes to mobility. Your corrective exercise list can be determined by simply going through a 20-minute Functional Movement Screen appointment with any of the Health Fitness Specialists at NIFS. These results will determine which corrective exercises will most benefit you; then you will get a detailed list of these exercises and how to perform them. So get down to NIFS and schedule an FMS appointment today, or call 317-274-3432 and ask for the track desk.

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This blog was written by Aaron Combs, NSCA CSCS and Health/Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.
Topics: NIFS range of motion weightlifting strength training mobility functional movement

The Benefits of Incorporating Resistance Bands into Your Workout

bands-1If you have spent any amount of time in the gym lately, I am sure you have seen a lot of people using exercise bands for part of their workout. When looking at a flimsy, thin exercise band, many would think, “Okay, what type of workout will that even give me?” Studies have shown that workouts using exercise bands will increase muscle strength and size while helping decrease fat, similar to using free weights.

How Bands Improve Your Workout

So, whether you are in CXWORX, working out in a HIT class, or doing something on your own, using resistance bands can add significant benefits into your workout. Here are the top things they can do:

  • Provide resistance: Just like using a weight to make an exercise more difficult to do, resistance bands help to provide tension and resistance to challenge you in your workout.
  • Allow free range of motion: Doing exercises in the full range of motion is important because it helps in injury prevention. Training in full ROM puts positive stress on your connective tissue and will decrease the chance of injury.
  • Allow progressive speeds and tension without changing equipment: Adapting an exercise while using a resistance band couldn’t get any easier! With a simple step forward or backward, the tension on the band will significantly change, allowing the exercise to become easier or more difficult.
  • Easily packable for road trips or a space saver: This is the most obvious one of all; resistance bands don’t take up a lot of space, so even if you have always dreamed of that “home gym,” you can get a few bands and still make it work without a lot of equipment. It goes without saying that this is a huge cost saver.
  • Get a total body workout: Any fitness professional will tell you that you can get a full-body workout simply by using a resistance band. From biceps to triceps, back to chest, glutes to quads, and everything in between, using a band will change the idea of using 200 items to get in a full workout!

Change Up Your Workout

If you are trying to think of ways to change up your workout, think about throwing some resistance band training in there. You can ask any of the health fitness specialists at NIFS to show you some exercises or put you through a routine. 

Need help setting up a workout program? Schedule a free assessment today!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: equipment injury prevention muscles range of motion resistance Les Mills

Fit & Forty+ (Fabulous) Series—Foam Rolling and Increasing Your Range of Motion

Fit & Forty+ (Fabulous) Series—Foam Rolling and Increasing Your Range of Motion

by NIFS Personal Trainer Kris Simpsondescribe the image

As you reach your 40s, your body becomes less flexible, from sitting too much. Your body gets softer, from loss of muscle mass. Your weight creeps up, and your bone density drops. YIKES. Getting old stinks. But hold on, ladies: We can fight back!

Our video today shows you how to increase your range of motion (ROM) and move better. We introduce you to the foam roller, which is becoming a popular way for people to break down adhesions and sore muscles to get the muscles to fully function. The roller is a great way to start your workout.

If you can move better, the next part—adding strength—will be more effective. Here at NIFS, we can do a Functional Movement Screening (FMS) to determine your imbalances and give you exercises to help you move better.

If you want to schedule an FMS screening click here to contacted by a NIFS staff member.

In the next segment, we look into your diet with help from Angie Scheetz, our staff dietitian. We will give you challenges to improve your diet—plus a circuit to burn some serious calories!

If you missed the first blog in this series go back and read and watch our video on Getting Started.

This blog series was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. If you have questions about something in this series or would like to schedule an appointment with Kris please contact her at 317-274-3432 or email. To read more about Kris and NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness muscles range of motion flexibility

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) at NIFS

Over the last several weeks a lot of you may have gottenFMS logo
a small taste of our new movement screen. The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) will be our new way to assess movement-pattern quality. Movement training is somewhat new and looks at fundamental movements and motor control rather than isolated joint movements. Its purpose is to find dysfunctions so that they can be rectified and your chance for injury decreases.

The FMS Movement Tests

The FMS is made up of seven movement tests that can be divided into three sections. There are two tests that measure mobility, two tests that measure stability, and three tests that measure function. All of these tests coincide with each other so that we don’t miss anything. If you can FMS screeningmove pretty well at one test, it will eventually find a restriction or asymmetry/imbalance at some point if you have any. Our job is to identify any weaknesses, limitations, imbalances, or asymmetries so that we can immediately prescribe you a corrective strategy to reduce your chance for injury and increase fitness results.

Increasing Fitness Results and Reducing Injuries

As a staff, we are always looking for ways to improve our members’ safety and training, and our effectiveness to get results. Having a reliable way to assess movement allows us to program specifically for your needs and really zero in on what you need to achieve the best results. One of the reasons people hit plateaus is because their movement restricts how much they are able to do. So the FMS helps build a functional platform so that you can first move well and then move often. Essentially, if you try and move often first before you move well, your chance for injury goes up and your chances of seeing major results go down.

Scoring the Functional Movement Screen

Each test is graded from 0 to 3. A 0 indicates that there is pain during that specific movement. A score of 1 indicates that there is a dysfunction and the chance of injury greatly increases. A score of 2 is acceptable, and a 3 is considered optimal movement. A scoring system helps know whether the program we are prescribing is working and shows you specific results. The bottom line is if you are moving better, the chances of you getting injured are going down and your ability to get results is going up.

Modifying Training Based on FMS Scores

Lastly, if there is a dysfunction present, it is our job to put you in the best possible position to succeed and to stay injury free. This means that we will modify your training to correct your dysfunction as quickly as possible so that you can get back to the things that you are used to doing, but doing them more efficiently. If you are tired of not seeing results, the path that you continually take isn’t working.

Let us help you by taking you through the FMS, taking a step back from your misguided approach, and working on the small things that will help you achieve big results. Learn more about the FMS at NIFS, and sign up today!

This blog was written by Josh Jones, MS, CSCS, USAW, FMS. Meet our NIFS bloggers.

Topics: fitness center functional training shoulders NIFS programs injury prevention muscles range of motion