Functional warmups and exercises

Whilst at the gym yesterday, a boyfriend and girlfriend came into the weights area, and stood next to each other, in front of the mirror. They started, under the leadership of the boyfriend, to run through about 2mins of arm swings, windmills, shoulder rolls, and other such upper body mobility movements. He was calling out the next move, just before they ‘performed’ it. I tell you, if such movements were a synchronized Olympic event, they’d be coming home with a medal!

As they finished, I continued to keep an eye on them, between my sets of work, to see where and what they would do next. It all went downhill………

He started bench pressing, and she went straight over (to one of the most useless pieces of gym equipment) and sat on the seated abductor machine (Where you sit with your knees together at 90degrees, and take them outwards in a very attractive manner!). After a couple of mediocre sets, the next machine was the seated leg curl ( to ‘work’ the hamstrings).

My problem with this ‘workout’ is;

1) You should warmup specifically for what you are about to do. The girl in this case mobilised her shoulder joint and upper body, and then went and sat down to marginally work her lower body!

2) The choice of equipment is poor. The seated abductor machine attempts to work your abductor muscles (in your hip and bum) but from a seated position. When do you ever sit down and perform such a movement? The same can be said for the leg curl. Do you ever sit down and work your hamstrings from a seated position? No, they get used, walking, running, bending down etc etc.

What should be done is;

1) Warmup specifically for the exercises you will be doing. If you’re going to work the lower body, then perform some multidirectional lunges, some bodyweight squats, some knee raises and star jumps etc.

2) Perform functional exercises, ones that will mimic daily movement patterns, or at least those exercises which will be weight bearing, and using multiple muscles. Lunges, and jump lunges, squats, and jump squats, side squats, weighted step ups, staright leg deadlifts. Then look to incorporate the movement into a full body exercise by adding some rotational work as you lunge, some pressing overhead movements as you squat. These such exercises will work towards a lean, athletic body, whereas the seated examples are wasting your time and money!

(These ‘gym stories’ are not mean’t to be personal attacks, but to hopefully help you avoid the mistakes made by other people!)
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