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The ABC’s of Functional and Efficient Training

The ABC's of Functional and Efficient Training Kirsty Nelson, Bayside Bodyworx   We are living in a world where we are busier than ever. We are more sedentary than our bodies...

The ABC’s of Functional and Efficient Training

The ABC's of Functional and Efficient Training
Kirsty Nelson, Bayside Bodyworx


We are living in a world where we are busier than ever. We are more sedentary than our bodies are designed to be, chained to desks and staring at various different screens throughout the day. This is certainly not conducive to a fit and healthy body and why so many of us are becoming rounded in the shoulders, having back problems and struggling to fit in basic exercise when we are constantly being bombarded with texts, phone calls and emails that don’t allow us to switch off throughout the day and in some cases right through the night!


This is why we need to train SMARTER not harder – being efficient with your time in the gym and including functional movement to get the most bang for your buck.


So to start off with, what is functional movement? This is a type of exercise that prepares our bodies and helps us perform various types of common activity and movement as we go through our day-to-day lives. Functional movement focuses on increasing our range of motion, overall strength, ability, muscular balance and joint mobility for common daily activities like lifting, reaching and bending. The main focus is on building strength in the abdominal and back muscles aka core strength.


I like to incorporate some form of functional movement or pattern in all my own and my clients’ training sessions. I believe incorporating a variety of techniques in a training session is important to add diversity to keep the client and their bodies interested, but also to keep the body challenged in many ways. I try to include movements that require co-ordination, balance, core and overall strength in each session.


EFFICIENCY! As previously mentioned, most of us are in a time-centred or limited world these days so each training session needs to efficient. A great way to do this is by focusing on big compound movements that recruit several different muscles during the exercise, ie dead lifts, squats, rows, trunk rotations and chest presses. These exercises all get the heart rate racing and send the metabolism sky rocketing, which results in higher fat and calorie burning potential. The other big benefit is that they help build lean muscle tissue, which helps to increase your basal metabolic rate, which is the rate at which you burn energy at rest. The more lean muscle you have = the higher your resting metabolic rate = more calorie/energy expenditure while at rest. Winning!

Another tip to being efficient in the gym is to include supersets, tri-sets and giant sets in your training. This involves doing two or more exercises back-to-back with no rest and focusing on strength by lifting heavy. If you are working more to a giant set (four or more exercises back-to-back) then you may need to decrease your weights to 80 per cent of your lifting capability to sustain your energy/strength throughout the set. Training like this is also like doing a cardio and strength session at the same time – try it and see how quickly your heart rate escalates!


TIME really is irrelevant. I’ve been short on time and only managed to fit in a 20 minute strength-focused session and still felt the benefits the next day – you’ve got to love those DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness – that pain you feel the days following exercise) to let you know you’ve had a good workout. It’s all about quality over quantity. The idea is to reduce your rest periods between sets or to not have any rest periods at all. Concentrate on lifting as heavy as you can without compromising on form. As soon as you see or feel your form is not on point then it’s time to drop the ego and drop the weight. Nobody wants or has time for injuries.


Still confused? Well, here are a couple of my favourite exercises for you to try:



Select two dumbbells (keep the weight low until you get used to the movement). Start off in a full plank position with the dumbbells in your hands and core locked on strong (draw that belly button into the spine and don’t drop the hips – you should be able to place a broom down your back – no bums sticking in the air please!). From here perform a single push-up followed by alternating rows with each arm (picture B), sliding the arm close to your side, elbow reaching towards the sky and contracting the shoulder blades through the back. That is one rep. Repeat another 10–12 times or do as many as you can. Remember, form over ego!


push up





Select two dumbbells – again start light or without weights until you get used to the movement and increase from there.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and weight distributed evenly.
From here you are going to step back on your right foot and drop the knee until it’s just hovering above the ground at a nice 90 degree angle, while simultaneously keeping the arms straight and bringing them up in front to shoulder height. Return to starting position. Repeat the above steps but stepping back on the left. This is one rep.

Repeat for another 12–15 alternating reps. Challenge yourself but remember, form over ego!



These exercises are just examples to give you a bit more of an idea about functional and efficient training. If you are unsure about any of these exercises then please ask a qualified personal trainer for assistance.

If you would like to know more about functional and efficient training or are keen to get started on or improve your own fitness regime, then please get in touch. Nourish Melbourne members enjoy a discounted rate to any of my services.

Good luck and happy training!


Kirsty and Bayside Bodyworx are a part of the Nourish Melbourne community of recommended businesses, offering Nourish Melbourne Members great prices for personal training and nutrition programs. Find out more about our partnership here, and more about becoming a Nourish Melbourne Member here.