1. Make Your Body Your Machine: No body part is an island. Try to pick a pen off the floor using just your hand. It's impossible. You also need your legs, core, shoulders, arms, and neck. Yet for decades 'experts' have sent us to weight machines to train isolated muscle groups. The body is an interconnected chain of muscles and should be trained using movements that challenge all of them in every plane of motion. Forget the machines. Make your body your machine.
2. Think Outside the Gym: Use your imagination to create functional training environments wherever you are. Playgrounds, parks, garages, basements, hotels rooms, stairwells, sidewalks, and city streets can be highly effective training grounds. When you embrace training anywhere, you squash any excuse you have not to train.
3. Stand up to Train: The average American already spends 21+ hours a day sitting or lying down. So forget about machines that support your body and instead make your body support itself (as it was designed to do). Training while standing helps us to perfect the movement patterns needed to achieve optimal physical performance. The is functional training.
4. Train in 3-D: Back-and-forth, up-and-down movements like pull-ups, sit-ups, squats and the almighty bench press have long been training staples. But like and sport demand that we be able to twist, bend, jump, run, dive, rotate, and roll in every direction. Building a truly strong, fit, healthy body that can do those things requires training it to excel in every plane of motion. Want a functional body? Train in 3-D.
5. Mix Ingredients Thoroughly: Perfecting the 'training dose' in the training equation means varying the duration, intensity, and frequency of workouts. Mix it up within workouts, from training session to training session, and over the long haul. Take rest days every week and 3-5 days for active recovery once a month. Then mix up with the ingredients and start again. It will keep training fresh and deliver better results. Listen to your body and customize your mix.
6. Know When to Walk Away: Overdoing it leads to diminishing returns. Optimizing your training might actually means stopping when it's too much for your body. If you're throwing up or passing out, you're wasting time and forcing your body into deficit it won't recover from quickly. The effects of training are cumulative. You can't make massive progress in your appearance or performance with a single training session. Push hard, but know when to say when.
7. Tune Into Your Workouts: We're all familiar with the scene: rows of elliptical machines facing televisions. That might be a great way to train an army of fragile mechanized zombies. But functional training should mirror the activities you perform in life and sport and those activities take some focus and attention. When you train, wall off your mind from distraction, and focus on the movements and your goals. When you train, train consciously. Master your mind and stay tuned to how your body feels.
8. Form is Function: Movement of the foundation for strength, endurance, balance, mobility, flexibility, and fitness in general. Learning to execute movements with proper form builds the base of your training pyramid. Without sound form, all of your hard work will eventually collapse in on a weak foundation. You get injured. You miss workouts. Focus on learning and executing the appropriate form and movement pattern for every exercise in your training program every time you train. Never apply greater intensity or resistance to any movement until you're confident you've first mastered the correct form.
9. Something is Better Than Nothing: Busy? Of course you are. Between balancing work and family there will always be times when you think you don't have time for a workout. But that's only if you cling to the rigid belief that training has to take place at a certain time or place for a particular duration. Let go of this perfection fantasy and wake up to the fact that you can train anywhere for whatever snippet of time you have. Doing something still advances your goals.
10. Recover Like You Train:
Human performance hinges on this equation:
Training Effect = (Training Dose + Nutrition) x Recovery.
No matter how well you train and eat, without proper recovery (sleep, naps, and reducing stress, etc.) you're just spinning your wheels. If your recovery is a 'zero,' your results will be zero. Eight hours of sleep is a good starting point, but you should experiment and find your own magic number. The harder or longer the workout, the longer you need to recover.
*TRX Tips from 2011-2012 Catalog, TRXtraining.com
Jamie Swagler,Performance Coach at Swagler Strength & Performance.