Get Functional!

Get the most out of your workout with a multi-joint routine that will have you pushing your major muscle groups

By Stephanie La Leggia
Photos of Hope Beel by Michael Neveux

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Our days are filled with awkward movements, whether it’s picking up your child, setting up the futon for your brother, or even bending down to tie a shoe. We’re bending down, picking up, twisting, and squatting all at the same time. Rather than focusing on one small muscle at a time, consider integrating a workout to train your muscle coordination and agility. Not only could a multi-joint program help you avoid injury when throwing snow over your shoulder, it can also create lean muscle throughout your body simultaneously rather than isolating your muscles. The more lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism.

Personal trainer, Pilates equipment specialist, and fitness writer Kathleen Trotter is a big believer in taking on a workout that is not only functional, but one that is also convenient enough to do consistently. “Small movements add up, and a multi-joint workout is time efficient and effective. You body works as a unit, so it makes more sense to train it that way. Your workout should be neurologically beneficial because, in life, your brain needs to be able to send the correct signals to control motor function and coordinate movement.”

Trotter says that the best type of training is variety. If you’re someone who usually does straight sets (resting between each set of exercises), switch it up and incorporate circuit training in your program with lighter weights. However, if you find yourself always doing circuit training, grab some heavier weights and opt to do some straight sets to work on your strength. “You always want to periodize your workouts throughout the year to include some aerobic-style circuit training as well as heavy weights that are going to challenge your nervous system to create new muscle fibres. This works well for athletes who have on- and offseasons,” she adds. To help you get started, we’ve put together a circuit training and straight-set program you can alternate between.

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