There’s no good having solid glutes if you can’t squat to tie your shoelaces – just like it’s no good having sculpted arms when you can’t lift your gym bag! This is where functional fitness comes into the equation. ‘Functional Fitness’ may sound rather familiar to you, and we wouldn’t be surprised since it did its rounds in the bodyweight training circuit over the past few recent years. However, it isn’t anything new, and you’ve probably done a bit of it without even realizing it.
What is Functional Fitness?
This is a group of exercises that are all about improving your daily activity. It’s basically training for life, rather than training for an athletic event. Performance and function are at the heart of functional fitness and it’s all about shifting focus so that you stay fit all year-round instead of just to slip into your trunks or your bikini! It’ll help you squat for your keys, reach for your jam ar at the top shelf and push your sofa aside when you’re vacuuming. Most of the exercises are bodyweight based but on occasion, props are introduced to mix things up and offer resistance, like battle ropes or suspension trainers, or even weights like dumbbells and medicine balls.
Why Should You Bother?
Apart from the obvious benefits of being able to function better in all your daily activities, you will enjoy better posture, stability and be less prone to injury. This is also great for someone who may be recovering from an injury and has mobility issues since you’re working with being functional. However, this will mean that you need an all-clear from your physician before continuing any program or workout routine.
Balance & Coordination
Many of the daily activities that we perform rely on stability, and it all involves flat ground. Rarely do we ever have to balance on unstable surfaces, which makes dumbbell exercises on a BOSU ball pretty unnecessary in real-life applications. Challenging your balance when you are on stable ground involves single leg balances, step-ups, lunges, and posterior and lateral movements, among others. You will also manage to carry heavier weights if you are incorporating weights in your routine, making you stronger and leaner – not to mention burning more calories!
Functional exercising is all about multi-joint based movements that ideally work both the upper and the lower body. Daily tasks require us to use our entire bodies, like loading our car with our shopping, or offloading groceries, or even packing away the laundry or hanging up the laundry. Maybe your job requires a little physical effort. The fact that functional fitness works multiple muscle groups means that you manage to get results quicker. Firing up your muscles means you will be firing up your cardiovascular system as well, forcing more blood through your organs and keeping you healthier.
While you may think that power is just another word for strength, it really isn’t. Power is about explosive movements, like reflexes. Olympic lifts and upper body plyometrics are examples of exercises that improve your power. These are functional because they can help you react quickly and effectively in a range of situations – catching something that slipped off the counter or catching yourself as you trip up the stairs. Power exercises develop overall body strength as well as agility and speed. You will find it far easier to do many activities in daily life.
Range of Motion
The human body is designed to be able to move in many directions – upwards, downwards, forwards, backward and side-to-side. This is why limiting your workouts to one plane of motion is actually going to limit yourself. Moving in multiple planes does the opposite – it conditions your body to increase its range of motion and keeps your joints flexible and your muscles lengthened. You will also enjoy a healthy and limber spine and develop your core strength. The more you work your rotational motion, the better the health of your muscles, joints and ligaments will be.
We hope you’ve made up your mind that functional fitness belongs in your workout because there are many benefits to enjoy and the best part is that you will be able to perform all the tasks that you do on a daily basis more efficiently and with less risk of injury. Hello, functional fitness!