Functional fitness or functional training…
Also referred to as functional exercise is any workout which adapts or develops exercises allowing you to perform activities of everyday life more easily and with reduced risks of injury.
Many moons ago, like most folks in the dark ages, I thought nothing of it, functional fitness was just some fancy schmancy word.
In my own life for such a long time, I actually didn’t think functional fitness was important…
Yes, life for me consisted of training ultra heavy with weights and machines.
Pushing all the way past comfort zones and pain thresholds.
UNTIL I started to experience pain and set-backs, injury after injury…
Functional fitness exercises trains your muscles to work together and prepare for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or sports.
One fact I want you to understand, don’t think you have to suffer long-term just because you want to improve the way you look or feel.
I’ll be honest, in my younger days, fitness, bodybuilding, exercise and sport consumed me.
So much dedication and discipline that I couldn’t even enjoy a normal life.
I didn’t feel functional fitness would be so incredibly crucial to better health and quality of lifestyle 35 years later.
So why is functional fitness one of the better ways to good health?
If you want to physically be capable of doing all of the stuff you currently enjoy doing…
Would you choose quantity or quality?
Functional fitness improves your upper-body, lower-body strength, core endurance, muscle power, balance, agility, coordination and so much more.
It means you’re able to keep doing what you love to do and feel better doing them.
Functional fitness exercises emphasizes using various muscles of upper and lower body all at the same time…
Functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability…
Some exercises are not actually going to help improve your functional fitness or functional ability at all.
This does not necessarily mean they are “bad” exercises.
It simply might not be very useful at all if your overall goal is to improve functional ability.
Some exercises are specific for certain sports and for some reason have become popular in fitness and training…
The reality is these exercise may not have much real life usefulness.
Especially if you are NOT an elite athlete, football player or gymnast.
The truth is just because you can lift heavy at the gym…
Or do 20 minutes of HIIT every other day…
It doesn’t mean the next time you lift 65 pound suitcase on your way to the airport, you won’t throw your back out…
Functional fitness focuses on training your body in such a way it can better handle day-to- day real life activities.
Lugging groceries, picking up kids and other activities which you would do daily.
So, instead of focusing on lifting a certain amount of weight or proper form of a particular exercise…
Functional fitness trains you to become better at real life positions.
And to perform every day activities you’re usually already doing.
Muscles working together…
Your typical weight training or strength training workouts are typically designed to isolate specific muscles, yet neglects to train your body to use multiple muscle groups together.
This is referred to as compond movements, exactly what functional exercise does is to integrate different muscles.
And through proper form and motion teaches your muscles to work together.
This produces better overall fitness so your entire body is working in unison.
Power and balance…
While many people focus on weights, weight machines and compound exercises, they neglect to address a fundamental need we have for day-to-day lifestyle.
Power and balance training exercises like using the one legged squat, which is more useful for everyday life than leg pressing 500 pounds. Why?
Because core stability is what serves you in everyday life.
Picture yourself when you reach for something in a high cabinet or walking up and down stairs…
Balance is an integral part of everyday life, including regular tasks of walking, using stairs and reaching for something high on a self.
Yes, it goes far beyond that…
Functional fitness is your ability to handle every day functions like going up and down stairs and picking up the TV remote off the floor.
Simple tasks you find easy now, but probably take for granted means you need a strategic exercise plan. Why?
Because each year you mature your functional fitness decreases, making everyday activities like gardening, playing with grandchildren…
And even picking up a piece of paper off the floor so much more difficult than it is now.
Unfortunately, this domino effect has a drastic impact on your energy levels.
In fact, it’s how your body works.
If your functional fitness is minimal, your body just has to work so much harder in order to do simple tasks.
This explains why your energy decreases as you age as well.
Did you know a balanced system which functions properly can help you to see clearly while moving?
Allow me to explain…
When you’re moving in context to gravity, you need to automatically assess direction and speed of movement.
And also make necessary adjustments to your posture and stability while doing activities.
Training your body to control and balance it’s own weight can serve you in any situation.
When you are young and as you mature it makes you stronger and stable.
And allows you to keep moving and staying active through your entire life.
You may not be able to avoid falls, which are some of the most common injuries in seniors.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 adults age 65 to 85 suffer a fall which results in moderate to severe injuries.
Unfortunately this includes debilitating hip fracture or very serious head trauma, both of which can increase risks of early death.
Avoiding muscle compensation…
One of the drawbacks of typical strength training workouts is they build isolated weakness into your body and that becomes detrimental in day to day movement.
While you’re strengthening certain muscles like arms and shoulders, you may inadvertently neglect to exercise the core and other muscle groups.
And that in turn creates a pattern of compensation, which means you use stronger muscles together to perform daily activities…
One muscle must works harder than other and this type of strain can cause injury.
Functional exercises teach weak isolated muscles to work together.
Now, when you pick up a suitcase, child or reach for something on a high shelf you won’t tweak a weak muscle that.s not properly trained.
You want to do functional exercise workouts which include:
Functional exercise that mimic your day-to-day lifestyle…
You want to engage core muscles while at the same time targeting other muscles of body providing an overall “functional” state of fitness.
Functional fitness training goes way beyond the above to mitigate bone loss through movements which support body weight.
And this helps to prevent osteoporosis…
The multi-joint, multi-plane movements engage body’s stabilizers which help to improve coordination…
Continually challenges the brain and ultimately serves you better.
You enjoy, handle and engage with day-to-day activities and become more functional.
Functional fitness workouts…
There are several elements to functional workouts which make it much more effective.
Exercise need to be adapted to your individual goals and personal needs.
Workouts should be directed toward your specific everyday life activities.
Individualized programs tailored to specific individual goals with personal needs.
For example, specific exercises for someone in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s who wants to avoid falls.
Any adult looking to improve their day-to-day enjoyment of activity performance.
An athlete training in a specific sport…
Someone who is in physical therapy and retraining their body…
No matter the circumstance, workouts should focus on meaningful tasks.
The overall state of health of the individual should be considered when assessing the types of exercises to use and the overall training load.
There should be a well-integrated program which includes power, strength, balance and core exercises that focus on multiple movement planes:
- Functional training should progress with increasing difficulty
- Functional training should include varying tasks
- Functional training should be repeated regularly on an ongoing basis.
- Support and feedback as progression is needed
Either through self-assessment or assessment via personal trainer or physical therapist.
Any exercise which involves standing on two feet and supporting yourself while lifting any type of weight is typically a functional exercise.
You can really do this at home just by repeating activities which mimic the above:
Balance exercises – various balance exercises without weights that teach the body to stabilize itself.
Exercise ball – greatest benefit to training using ball exercises is that they target the core muscles that are vital for stability and good posture.
There are many different and versatile core instability moves by using an exercise ball.
BOSU ball – opposed to the exercise ball, a BOSU has a round side and a flat side.
The BOSU ball makes any exercise a lot more challenging, because it adds an element of flexibility with instability to each workout as it forces you to brace and engage core muscles to remain steady.
BOSU workouts improve strength and help muscles learn to work together which helps reduce risks of injury.
Bent over row – works the back, shoulder and arm muscles and mimics life activities.
Think about bending over to make the bed.
A mechanic bending over to plug in electronics.
A carpenter bending over a saw table, even bending down to get something from a low shelf.
Much more useful when compared to a seated row, where you are only working chest and arms.
You need your body to be activating it’s core stabilizer muscles, right?
And your body is not learning to use those muscles together, because the machine is doing the work.
Stand on One Leg (you can start by holding onto a chair at first, then doing it on your own)
One Legged Squat
Single Leg Deadlift
Single Arm Row
Medicine Ball Squat With Overhead Lift
Medicine Ball Reach
Standing Bicep Curls
Lunge with Back Row
And many more
Get started with functional fitness…
The truth is functional exercises, like other full body workouts are much more difficult than machines, because its more demanding on your body.
If you are over 40 or have health problems you should first check with your doctor before starting functional or any other strenous exercise program.
Women are pregnant should check with their doctors as well.
When starting functional training it’s best to begin with body weight exercises instead of using weights.
You can add weights as you get more intune and have developed strong core muscles.
As you get fit, they will be able to add more resistance and continue to challenge your body.
If you’re already experienced trainer, you can engage in intermediate and advanced level functional training.
These types of exercises can be added into a regular workout routine.
It’s important to understand many functional exercise have deep health benefits and target other fitness goals, such as strength training, fat burning and heart health.
So choosing a specific functional exercise instead of using a weight machine kills two birds with one stone….does that make sense?
It is important to learn what works best for you and always use proper form.
There are lots of helpful articles, videos and resources to can help you within the resources of No.1 Body Weight Training, we’re continually updating and adding more as well…
You might want to hire a personal trainer to teach you the best way to get started.
Personal trainer can be very helpful in showing you proper form and creating a customized workout plan based on your persoanl needs and lifestyle.
Bottom line, it is never too late to get started by improving your core stability, functional strength and balance.
Functional fitness longevity exercises…
When it comes to increasing physical function for a long time which exercises do you think are the best?
These are the same types of functional fitness longevity exercises for mature adults.
First let me give you a few characteristics of high-quality functional fitness longevity exercises.
You want to challenge as many aspects of physical function such as strength, balance, endurance, coordination, proprioception and stability.
Proprioception is a process by which you can vary muscle contraction in response to external forces utilizing stretch receptors in muscles to keep track of joint position in relation to your body.
Use many muscles and limbs simultaneously
Focus on completion of a task rather than training a specific muscle
Are easy on the joints
Use a variety of equipment options
Are rarely performed in a seated position (unless standing is not possible)
Here are some of the top functional fitness longevity exercises for any age or level:
• Power Stand (stand up from a chair as fast as possible and lower back down slowly)
• Lunge with reach to toes (both hands)
• Side lunge with reach toe (opposite hand to toe)
• Standing one arm row using latex resistance band or rubber tubing
• Standing one arm chest press using latex resistance band or rubber tubing
• Standing diagonal lift using resistance band or medicine ball
• Plank exercises (front, side, back)
• Obstacle course
• HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training (cardio)
Is your goal to live a long life and still be able to enjoy high functioning body?
Well in order to enjoy all of those extra years follow the above functional fitness longevity exercises for yourself.
If you’re already a regular exerciser doing strength training movements on exercise machines at the gym, I dare you to try these functional fitness exercises today.
Ready to start a functional fitness longevity exercise program?
Functional fitness will serve you better in everyday life…
Get functional, stay lean and strong…reach your peak.
Get started today with more power for everyday life…