Functional is another excellent workout in Linda @ Barlates Metabolic Training Series. All of the workouts in this series hit the lower body hard and this one is no exception. This workout conditions many other muscle groups, too–biceps, triceps, back, shoulders and core. I say “conditioned” because it is more high rep/low weight work, so not really strength or muscle building, but it is still effective. And it is definitely metabolic–there is a big cardio factor. I was working hard and sweating.
Functional Training is something of a buzzword in the fitness industry right now. I see it a lot and I thought I understood the purpose of functional training. Exercises that condition your body so you can perform the type of movements you do daily with greater proficiency and pain free. We bend, squat, reach and do other such movements every day. So range of motion exercises, squats, lunges, twisting motions, shoulder work, etc., all condition and strengthen our body to function better. So, what place do handstands have in functional training? At what point in my daily activities do I need to be on my hands with my feet in the air? So I did some research on the benefits of doing handstands to improve functionality. What I found is that any benefits they do offer (for your shoulders, core and hips) can be achieved better with safer exercises. The exercises, workouts and programs you do should all be helping you to meet your fitness goals. Unless you are a gymnast or some other type of athlete, handstands are definitely not necessary to reach the goals of a home exerciser.
I write all of that because Linda loves to include handstands in her workouts and I just don’t want to do them. Of course, I don’t have to do any exercise I don’t want to do. No one is holding a gun to my head. And Linda always offers modifications, but she also urges you to do them, as if you are getting some benefit from them that you cannot achieve in other ways. That just isn’t true. So don’t do them unless you want to. I don’t want to, so I always do the modification.
This workout uses a chair and dumbbells. Linda is using 5 pound dumbbells. I probably could have used heavier dumbbells but I knew from previewing this workout that it is a high rep workout, so I used 5 pounds, too. I may use heavier weights when I return to this workout, but nothing heavier than 8 pounds. I also did not use a chair. You use the chair for glute bridges with your legs elevated. I know from past workouts that the very best piece of equipment for elevating your legs during hip thrusts is Cathe‘s Fit Tower. It gives you greater range of motion and greater stability than a chair or even a step. If you don’t have a Fit Tower then of course use a chair, but I used my Fit Tower and my glutes and hamstrings are still burning, hours later. Finally, for the final exercise, you do superman moves laying across the chair seat. I used a stability ball which recruits a bit more core into the move.
This workout is available for free on YouTube but I purchased the DVD which contains 3 other workouts in her Metabolic Training Series. You can also purchase the download from Linda via her website. I have now done all 4 of her Metabolic Training Series workouts and I highly recommend the DVD. They are all excellent workouts that I will return to and that work very well together. The other 3 workouts in the series are: Circuit, Box Sculpt and Cardio Sculpt.
Metabolic Training: Functional is 55 minutes; 1:30 minute intro, 6 minute warm up and 3 minute stretch. Equipment: dumbbells (Linda is using 2.5kg or 5 pounds), a fitness mat and a chair. I used my Fit Tower and a stability ball instead. About 20 minutes into the workout you pick up the weights.
- Squat + front kick, alternate legs; front kick changes to side leg lifts; changes to side leg lift + curtsy lunge + squat (continue to alternate sides)
- Squat + front kick + squat + side leg lift into curtsy lunge into side leg lift (remain on one leg for this entire combo)
- Repeat #2 on other leg
- With heels lifted, bounce side to side on balls of feet
- Hop while pushing hands in front of you; changes to 4 wide jumps + 4 narrow jumps (same hands)
- Repeat #4
- Extend one arm straight on front of you, do large circles with the other arm, continue hopping on one foot while other foot (same side as extended arm) does a toe-heel move (do this move for a long time then change sides and do it for a long time on other side, then it changes to 4 reps and change sides–keep changing sides; changes to 4 reps + one squat jump + 2 hops + one squat jump + 2 hops, keep repeating this combo but alternate sides)
- Repeat #4
- Hop on ball of one foot while lifting other leg out straight to side 4x + 2 jumping jacks + tap one foot out to the side then to the front then back to side, keep repeating this combo but alternate sides
- Repeat #4; changes to marching in place
- Rear lunge variation–when lunging, back foot is turned to side, push hips/glutes back while hinging forward, tap toe beside stationary foot at top of lunge; bicep curls at top of lunge; changes to pulsing 3x while in lunge (arms are pulsing at top of bicep curl, too) then at top of lunge, push arms back behind you in a tricep kickback; changes to 1 lunge + knee raise + 1 lunge + front kick (continue bicep curls)
- Repeat #11 on other side of body
- (set DBs aside) One reverse lunge + pivot to side and do a front lunge while hinging torso forward and reaching fingertips to ground beside front foot; second part of this combo changes to placing hands on floor and lifting front leg up straight behind you and to the ceiling, return leg to lunge position; leg raise changes to a handstand
- Repeat #13 on other side of body
- (grab DBs) Side lunge into curtsy lunge with back leg straight; add one narrow back row during side lunge and one rear delt fly during curtsy lunge; rows and flys change to 3 reps of each
- Repeat #15 on other side of body but the arm movements change–narrow tricep kickback when doing the side lunge and wide (out to sides of body) tricep kickback during curtsy lunge; kickbacks change to 2 reps instead of one
- 2 plié squat jacks + one narrow squat touching fingertips to toes
- (get chair–Linda places her against her sofa to hold it in place; I used my Fit Tower) Lay on back and put feet on seat of chair, raise and lower hips/glutes
- Same position as #18, keep hips/glutes raises, raise one leg straight to ceiling then tap toes to the floor beside chair, raise leg straight to ceiling again then back to chair
- Same position as #18 but bring feet together on chair seat and open knees out to side, raise hips, close and open knees, lower hips; move feet apart so knees face the ceiling now and continue the same move
- Same position as #18, raise hips/glutes and keep them raised, raise one leg and extend it straight out to side on a diagonal then bend the knee and push the leg underneath opposite thigh, turning your hip out as you do this
- Move further away from chair but heels are still resting on chair seat, raise head/shoulders off floor and place hands behind head, lift one straight leg while chopping opposite arm across the leg
- In same position as #22, open knees so outside of feet are resting on chair, hands are still behind head, raise one leg and bring opposite elbow toward the knee, alternate sides
- Lay belly across chair seat with hands and feet on ground and extended straight, raise one arm and opposite leg, keep alternating lifts; lift both arms but continue alternating leg lifts (I used a stability ball for this exercise)