There’s a term thrown around quite a bit within the fitness industry – it’s called ‘Functional Fitness’. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, but do you REALLY know what it means?
Well the basic idea behind Functional Fitness is to exercise in a way that makes life’s daily tasks easier – whether it’s grocery shopping, climbing stairs or sprinting for a bus. But while I agree with this theory, there’s a commonly overlooked variable with this kind of exercise. So for today’s Change It Up I’m sharing my thoughts on Uneven Loading.
If you look around your gym what you’ll most likely witness is people using the same weights in each hand, on each leg or using perfectly symmetrical body positioning. But let me ask you – when in life do you EVER have exactly the same weight in each hand, follow identical paths with each side of your body or even perform the same number of reps?
The answer is NEVER! Yet our lives are never as structured, routine or evenly balanced as when we’re in the gym. So while you may be using a ‘functional’ exercise, the way in which you perform it is anything but. Think about it – your grocery bags don’t weigh the same in one hand as in the other, when you mow the lawn parts of the lawn are tougher than others, the suitcase you put in the overhead bin on a plane may be lopsided and there are numerous occasions in which we carry weight on one side, but none on the other!
So why not try Uneven Loading – where you use unequal weights during your training program. It’s a well known training variable that just doesn’t get used much. It helps develop neural efficiency and coordination, which ultimately will make you stronger! And it’s really easy to incorporate into your routine. You don’t even need to change exercises, only the weights you use. For instance – try dumbbell chest press with half the weight in one hand as the other – so if you press 30 pounds, use 15 or less in the other. The same goes for the shoulder press, rows, laterals and virtually any exercise.
These small changes in weight will train an area in an entirely different way – and the real challenge is to move each side of your body at the same speed! I like to use Uneven Loading while performing walking lunges, with just one dumbbell in one hand, switching the grip between sets. It’s a great stability workout and you can feel the difference – you’ll really have to work to stabilize your body and stay in control.
So next time you hit the gym, try using the Uneven Loading idea and get ready for a new challenge!
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