listen to your body, not to your heart rate watch. Move as the whim takes you, not according to a training plan.
A plea for a bold change of perspective
No doubt, our body is capable of many things. We can see that in the performances of Tour de France cyclists, Ironman finishers or mountain climbers. Looking at professional athletes or ambitious hobby athletes like these can motivate us in our own training workload. However, it can also make us go beyond the current limit of our body’s performance and motivation. You can often see that in the posture and faces of hobby athletes. Whether it’s a jogger or a road racer in the hot summer sun, or gym rats in the hottest days of summer in the sweaty course room or on the cross trainer.
What motivates ambitious sportsmen to accomplish enormous bodily workloads? What makes hobby athletes go beyond what their own motivation? Why can you trust yourself more than heart rate watches, tracking apps, and step counters? How can sport become more fulfilling and fun instead of only being strenuous? And how can you bring more sense and feeling in your movement program with outdoor training like Functional Training? You’ll get the answers here.
I’m not a machine…
I’m a human being made from flesh and blood. In his song released in 2016, Tim Bendzko sings about the monotony of functioning. This monotony reigns over many an athlete: rigid training plans that demand to be followed; a dietary change to the next big super food for more power and less body fat; steadily increasing weights and resistances regardless of muscle pain or fatigue; a mindless process of training with one eye on the step counter and MP3 player while your thoughts are concentrated on your dinner.
If you also feel like this, then you’re not alone. This is the frustrating reality in almost all gyms worldwide, every day. And more: this is a mindless, qualitative inferior, and ineffective way to train. But don’t feel too bad. I’ve been the same for years.
We can observe this development in many social areas, sport is just one of them. The performance society finds its way to the playgroup: which child can do x first? Early intervention in kindergarten, followed by a rigid school program and university or apprenticeship. Burnout, more serious illnesses in younger and younger years or a lack of perspective round out this picture. Functioning as little gears without questioning anything? Or breaking free like Tim Bendzko in the video to the aforementioned song?
Go push yourself
Udo Bölts pushed his then-team captain Jan Ullrich to the Tour de France victory in 1997 with the legendary exclamation ‘torture yourself, you sod’. Functioning is the first priority in professional sports as well. But why?
In order to understand this, we need to extend the notion of the human being as a purely physical body with ongoing biochemical processes with his/her thoughts and feelings as well as with his/her intellectuality. These aspects might already be touched by sport psychology and mental training for athletes. Simplonik as a science of simplicity deduces it from natural laws.
Everything starts when we are conceived and born as a child. At some point, whether it’s in our mother’s womb or as a baby or in kindergarten, we experience not being accepted as who we are. Maybe it was just because we were crying when the grown-ups had to be focused on something else because they were stressed. Nevertheless, this experience seems threatening. After all, we need a community in order to survive – especially as a child. Now, we start looking for ways to assure recognition. We think the community likes us when we function like they expect us to.
With this procedures like these we learn many truths and belief systems in our lifetime. Example: ‘Only when you are fast and strong you’re worth something’. ‘You can only make something of yourself if you assert yourself’. ‘I am only proud of you when jump from the 5 m diving board’. Our individual belief systems are our world view and shape our ambition. Ambition for performance and adaptation which – so we hope – brings attention.
The described process can be found in every human. If we don’t understand it, it can become a tragic incentive for never-satisfying strain. Personal records can be achieved in this way but always with the lingering doubt whether they are already good enough or not. Or could it also have been even better? Thus, you torture yourself with lifting ever-increasing weights, climbing higher and higher mountains, always running faster and further. At some point, you don’t even fit through the door with your mountains of muscle. But: a real sense of accomplishment can never be achieved. Instead, the euphoria over a newly accomplished goal is quickly followed by inner emptiness. And the automatic circle of searching for a new goal leads to the compulsion to accomplish new, often even higher, workloads.
I am a human being made of flesh and blood
The recent developments show that you listen more to the heart rate watches, step counters, and rules of thumb of trendy guidelines than your inner voice. You don’t feel like jogging any further but you have only burned 400 calories yet? Then keep going. You have been doing bench pressing with 110 kg for the last three weeks, so not it’s time for 10 kg more. Even though shoulder is acting up for weeks now. Do you think this has nothing to do with your needs, your inner voice and your feelings towards training?
The secret is balance: active and restorative phases should be in balance throughout the day. In the wild, activity has almost always to do with fight or flight and is a mechanism to secure survival. It goes hand in hand with stress. Muscles are contracted for powerful movements. Once survival is guaranteed the organism changes back to relaxation and restoration.
Responsible for controlling this balance are the complementary forces, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Life, and with it your movement program and sport, becomes involuntarily difficult as soon as activity predominates.
No question: strenuous movements like in training or sport can be accounted to activity. And still, there is an intuitive performance and passion limit. This limit communicates via feelings at first. No motivation, a desire for something different, boredom, or the need for fresh air are only a few examples how our body communicates with us. If we choose to ignore these feelings – and rather listen to our fitness gadgets – our body will change to other signals like muscles acting up, pain or lack of energy. Psyche and body go hand in hand.
Learn the art of movement
With the derivation of motivation for sport in mind, we can understand the true sense of movement: no matter which movement or sport you choose, the true sense only unfolds as soon as you concentrate your focus and feeling on the doing. You are suddenly free from thoughts about what could happen. You only feel true focus on the moment. Your search for recognition moves into the background. Your body is in action and yet relaxed and sensible. Your feelings are open and free.
Let’s take an example to clarify this: if e.g. you go up a steep mountain you can either take a sniveling look up at the mountain top and then at your heart rate watch. Or you are so caught up in the action and the moment that you are fully concentrated on every single step. The next step is always the most important one.
How can we accomplish this in our movement or sport program? Human beings have five senses. By using them we experience the world. This sounds simple enough and is clear to most people. However, there are impressive example from the gym where we don’t understand this: we spend most of our day inside and for our workouts we go inside as well. Temperatures are almost always nice, we have mastered the art of steady lighting conditions 24 hours a day, and sounds – sometimes even noises – are always present. If the music ng from the gym’s sound system isn’t enough we add music from our MP3 players. Thus, we can divert ourselves from the monotony of our training program by selecting another song every three minutes. This sensory overload is strenuous, our nervous system reacts stressed. The sympathetic nervous system is activated.
If we go out into nature and achieve tranquility to appreciate it, however, we experience a bandwidth of seemingly endless sensory perception. And we experience it on a level that is natural and processible for us human beings. The wind in our hair, in our face, and on our skin, the countless color nuances of leaves or the stillness in which we recognize a multitude of bird voices, crickets, and the rain hitting puddles and leaves. Your own life starts to have enormous depth. We live and feel reconnected to nature.
We can implement our sport program into this state of being one with nature and the environment. The flexibility of Functional Training with its light and simple equipment or endurance sports make us independent from exterior conditions like opening hours and allow us to train as we feel like in the moment. And when your body demands for a break in the middle of it: grant it one. By accepting your individual performance limit and feeling your desire for movement at maybe completely different hours than normally, you can reach a new fulfilling movement program after some time of reorientation. Sport then becomes a game more and more. Though strenuous in the moment but fulfilling since you don’t think about anything else. Have fun rediscovering your naturalness.
What you can accomplish with the help of sandbag training:
- Increase core strength!
- Strengthen the whole body!
- Stop climate change… NOT!
Seriously: sandbag training leads a miserable existence in the shadows of functional training. Completely unjustly! This piece of equipment and all of its possibilities offer great advantages for your training!
Ultimately, there are only a few training tools that allow you to design a full body training over weeks and even months without getting boring or neglecting an aspect. And the sandbag, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the few.
Everything you need is a blackPack with different Loading-Bags, your own bodyweight, and a timer.
Creating more impulses with instability
Sandbag training is characterized by its instable training weight which moves differently inside the sandbag in every movement. The inter- and intra-muscular coordination (the interplay between single muscle fibers and even whole muscle groups) is improved and the whole organism gets challenged more than when using a fixed weight like a barbell. A study has researched the influence of your own position and stability on neuromuscular training effects. It came to the finding that the exercises that had the highest demands in stability created the highest neuromuscular effects even though the maximum strength was the lowest of all compared exercise versions. This shows that it is not the biggest weight that produces the biggest impulses and that the instability of the training weight has a huge influence on the training effect.
Additionally, you can find several handle variations on a sandbag that each create different impulses. And when you disregard the handles and grab the sandbag by its ‘body’ you will have another option that not only trains your grip strength but is also very close to everyday life challenges. Since in your daily chores there aren’t any perfectly formed objects that you have to carry but shopping bags, your kids or the basket with dirty clothes.
Adjusting sandbag training
Back to the original topic: when you are planning your sandbag training you have to consider the following aspects:
- I can use the sandbag for pushing, pulling, and rotating movements.
- I can use it like a barbell or implement it as a ballistic tool like a kettlebell.
- I can scale every exercise even without adjusting the weight of the sandbag.
Generally, there is one guiding principle: you are training fucntionally when you train holistically. Thus, your training plan should consist in equal parts of pushing, pulling, and rotating movements. For example, you can combine bend over rows (pulling), front squats (pushing), and planks with outside pull (anti-rotational). All these exercises can be done with one sandbag. And before I add more sand to the sandbag I would adjust other parameters. I can make exercises more challenging simply by changing my position:
I can do the bend over rows on one leg, for example. The same goes for front squats or you can hold the sandbag over your head. And the plank with outside pull can be varied with different directions from and to I pull or push the sandbag, and I can even combine it with crawling.
Depending on the exercise we can also add a certain dynamic for ballistic exercises. If you take rotational lunges, for example, I can speed up the movement and swing the sandbag from side to side, lifting the sandbag up in front of me, actively slowing it down, and accelerating it again.
This leads us to the second aspect I have mentioned before: making exercises more dynamic. The result is that the demands on your core strength grow and you can create a greater training effect on your core and back musculature.
And I can do all of this in one and the same workout. So you also have maximum flexibility.
Turn your sandbag into an aquabag
If all of these adjustments are still not enough I have also the option to fill my blackPack with water instead of sand. But don’t hold your garden hose in your blackPack right away! As you know, the blackPack is not filled directly but with Loading-Bags. And for water we have the brand-new Loading-Bag AQUA for every member of the blackPack product range. Now, you can turn your blackPack sandbag into an aquabag with just a few steps. Remove the Loading-Bags SAND, fill in one Loading-Bag AQUA, and you’re all set. Even more instable training weight = even more impulses!
Whether you train with sand or water, blackPack training challenges your whole body. I can do exercises for my legs but I generally always incorporate my upper body. The same goes for exercises that focus on my shoulders or arms, the core is always involved. Especially when space is a factor and I don’t want to spend a fortune on equipment, I should take a closer look at the advantages of sandbags. As I said before, the sandbag is a versatile tool that gives you plenty of options.
So you are asking yourself whether functional training is the right thing for you?
Sorry to tell you this but there are no hard and fast rules to determine an answer. But we will show you three life hacks that only functional training will give you.
The fundamental pillars for life long training…
First of all, we have to say that nearly every from of training, every concept, and every exercise has its justification at some point. There is not the one best training plan and recipe to success that fits everybody!
Your training has to be tailored to your individual needs and demands. It has to take into consideration where you come from, where you stand, physically and mentally, and it has to be effective. Thus, you have to find the form of training that makes sense for you, not for others. So what do you have to look out for?
Your training should be fun
Even the most effective exercises and the ‘6 weeks beach body’ program are pointless if you don’t have fun during training. If you have to pull yourself together every time in order to do the daily workout routine you will become exhausted. Even though it might be labelled as functional training there is no sense in torturing yourself every single time. This will simply force you to quit at some point and drag you down. Find out what’s the most fun for you: is it kettlebell training or do you prefer getting into beast mode with med balls? Are you getting onto the calisthenics hype train or do you prefer working with free weights? In the end, everything goes as long as it’s fun because the best workout is still the workout you actually do.
Your training should get you to your goals
There is nothing more frustrating than training regularly for weeks and months and then realizing that you are not making any progress. This should bring you to the point where you question your training method and whether it is the right one for you. Are there progressions in your workouts? Do single exercises build on the progress you made in other exercises? Only you can find out. Test yourself in regular intervals with strength and mobility tests. For sometimes you just have to visualize the progress you have made to realize how much you have actually accomplished. If you should learn, however, that your progress isn’t as great as desired you should get back to the drawing board.
Your training shouldn’t be too elaborate
The third item in this list is important to keep you motivated: sure, you should implement your workouts in your daily/weekly routine to make it an inherent part of your life. If you have to put too much effort into simply making it to training, though, or getting the training that your plan demands, it will ultimately be too tough to follow the routine. Functional training is a great way of training because you don’t need treadmills, big training machines that focus on one particular muscle, and a whole array of dumbbells and barbells with weight plates. You can just do it wherever you are and it is very flexible. It gives you many options when it comes to time and place. You don’t need to take a 20 minute drive to your gym where you also may have to wait in line to use the machines and then get stuck in rush hour on your way back home. Instead, you can easily train your whole body with just a sling trainer, maybe a kettlebell, and some resistance bands in your own backyard. Keep the threshold of access to a full and effective workout as low as possible and you will not have to muster up so much energy each time just to get to training.
Classic strength training is surely the right thing for some of us but the combination of the three mentioned advantages can, in general, only be found in functional training. The great thing about it is that this area is so broad-ranging, so individually scalable, and so versatile like sport itself. Thus, everybody has the opportunity to find the perfect training for their individual needs and demands. There is one thing that I have to stress, though: just because something carries the label ‘functional training’ doesn’t mean it guarantees fun, success, and value.
What are your thoughts on this?
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‘Don’t make a wave!’
This sentence is most likely heard from pubescent teenagers reacting to a simple request by their loving parents but you will probably never hear it from me! Because making waves with a Battle Ropes is so much fun.
I have been using Battle Rope Training in my personal training sessions for years, I regularly give seminars on Battle Rope Training for aerobis, and I believe that it is one of the most underrated and underused forms of functional training out there. There should defitnitely be more people making a wave!
Sure, Battle Ropes are certainly no rocket science but there are still some things that you have to watch out for to not only make beautiful waves but also train as effective as possible.
But see for yourself:
Battle Rope exercises
Now that you know what mistakes to have to avoid, we want you to give you some Battle Rope exercises that will diversifiy your training. Whether you do these exercises as part of your workout, build a whole workout around them or just use one or two as a finisher at the end of a workout – our training videos will surely give you enough inspiration for all of these cases. You will be surprised how versatile a simple Battle Rope can be!
If, however, you are still unsure about which Battle Rope would be the perfect addition to your tool box then head over to our Battle Rope guide. There, we have collected all the necessary information that you need to make that decision as easy as possible. As always: if you have any further questions or remarks, please post them in the comment section below or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
The sandman – 5 sandbag exercises that will make you better. Sandbag training can be a great way to improve your performance in CrossFit and other sports. We give you 5 exercises that will let you reach new PRs in the next WOD.
Free aerobis fitness guide in our Newsletter!
I have just trained with the revvll PRO for two weeks. The product is so versatile and I can train almost all major muscles of the body using different variations. The rope pulling training mechanism brings a lot of fun and new elements to my daily training program. Thanks a lot. Hope there will be more new training equipment to be invented by aerobis in the near future.
Bruce W.revvll PRO
I received the new massage gun Mini today - it's really awesome! I have for a few years very good experience with the Hypervolt and was actually looking for a "little sister" to the big brother...
The more I was pleased that you have also brought out such a handy little gun. And what can I say: It exceeds my expectations! Significantly even. It has a decent contact pressure and the motor also does not fail if you press properly...
This is a really ingenious little part! Great expansion of your product range.
Ingo B.aerobis Mini Massage Gun
just wanted to let you know the I have set up both the endless rope trainer and the kinetic trainer on the rig. I have got to say that both pieces of equipment are outstanding mate - I should of purchased all 3 items earlier. I thought I would share some positive feedback - as both myself and my wife are really impressed with these items.
Joe F.revvll PRO & Kinetic Trainer
we are very satisfied with our order. For intense club use, the equipment is always in perfect condition.
Congratulations for the quality of your products.
Coach Riad Bel - Muay Thai School 92 CologneBattle Rope & revvll PRO
here a little feedback from Ratingen Lintorf. We are still satisfied with your products and our members enjoyed using our Functional Training Area and your equipment at every opportunity.
Thanks a lot, you are doing a good job!
Turn- und Sportverein 08 Lintorfverso360, revvll PRO & aeroSling