Functional fitness is designed to focus your training on improving daily function. What’s functional will differ from person to person, as what we do in our daily lives is different.
What’s not functional fitness?
As with most things, there’s always someone who takes it too far. Functional fitness was originally focused on developing better movement quality, however some interpreted this as “how difficult can we make an exercise” in order to brand themselves as elite. There is no need to be bouncing on a bosu, single-legged with a dumbbell in each hand, unless to function in your daily routine you need plyometric, strength and balance, perhaps this would be functional for perhaps a trapeze artist and even then, you wouldn’t throw all these goals into one exercise.
The aftermath (and most probably injuries) of these extreme exercises has led to a rewind in mainstream thinking and what we now deem as functional training. We’re starting to see the function being put back into the training.
Functional Fitness vs Bodybuilding
Are you team function or team bodybuilding? Does it have to be one or the other?
Contrary to popular belief, no. Functional fitness is not the sworn enemy of bodybuilding, in fact many bodybuilding compound lifts, such as the squat and deadlift, are adapted into functional training regimes. Where the two differ, is with their focus on isolation and aesthetics. Bodybuilding focuses on the way muscles look, whereas functional fitness is about how the muscles move.
What are the Benefits of functional fitness?
You can’t train functionally sitting down.
Typically most people spend a shocking 9-12 hours sitting down. Let’s take your typical office worker, they drive to work - sat down, spend their morning in the office- sat down, go to lunch- sat down and then when they head to the gym, what do they do? Sit on machines. Functional fitness requires you to get up, to move in multiple planes of motion. Simply standing rather than sitting increases calorie expenditure and encourages better sugar metabolism.
You can improve your posture.
Unfortunately for most of us, the stress of modern life and pressures of our jobs, aren't great for our posture. Ever feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders? A hunched over back and slumped over shoulders are more common than not and it’s not good for our health. Functional fitness focuses on realigning posture by working on muscles slings and how muscle work together. Releasing tension from in the chest for example, can help to draw back the shoulders and correct posture.
You will burn fat.
Functional training burns fat. Fact. Incorporating multi-plane, multi-joint and multi-muscle movements means multi-fat burning. Functional training movement patterns crank up your heart rate and keep your body burning lots of calories.
Touch your toes.
Can you touch your toes? No? Time to get functional. Functional training can help to develop your flexibility by developing a better range of motion in movement patterns we use in everyday life.The whole point of functional training is to replicate the body’s natural planes of motion. Contracting muscles is one aspect, but it’s equally important to stretch muscles effectively to help increase flexibility.
It gives your workouts more of a meaningful purpose.
Whilst training to look good is, of course, of importance, functional training is about more than just looking good, it's about training to improve your life on a daily basis. As we get older, this can have a huge impact. It could be the difference between an elderly person being able to get up on their own, or needing a care assistant. Functional training is designed to improve the little things we do, day in, day out, to keep our bodies young and healthy.
You’ll be less likely to fall over
Functional movement incorporate lots of different planes of motion whilst focusing on single leg exercises. This improves balance and proprioception. What does that mean? You’re less likely to stumble over.
Variety is the spice of life
Training functionally keeps workouts varied. Instead of being restricted to training one muscle group in particular, training focuses on whole body integration. The possibilities of functional training are endless.
You’ll get stronger
Training functionally will produce increases in strength, which can help improve your daily life, from lifting your shopping to picking up children.
You’ll build more muscle
Functional training incorporates a variety of different pieces of kit as well as bodyweight, stumulating different muscle fibres and promoting further muscle growth. Lean muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, as well as pulling against the bone to increase bone density.
Functional Training Round - Up
- Functional training incorporates weaker muscle groups which are often neglected.
- Functional training ensures you are fit enough to perform daily activities.
- Functional training can correct posture and improve flexibility.