When you go about your day to day life, you move and use your body in many different ways. Carrying groceries back to the house, lifting your child up for a cuddle, moving a table and chairs or even running for a train. All of these are examples of functional activities that require some level of functional fitness.
But what actually is functional fitness? Is there a definition for functional fitness?
What is Functional Fitness?
The functional fitness definition is the ability to perform movements that mimic everyday, practical actions or activities usually incorporating multiple muscle groups at the same time. The idea is that if you increase your functional fitness, you increase your ability to actually perform every day, practical actions or activities.
Building fitness will help you become a more efficient human being both in the gym and outside of the gym as well.
Why is Functional Fitness Important?
Functional Fitness can help everyday people increase their ability to do everyday actions. Take a mother with a young child for example. If she can increase her ability to lift odd object to her hip, increase her cardiovascular capacity and improve her ability to carry heavy loads she will be able to pick her child up from the floor more, play with her child in the park more and be able to carry a bag and her child for longer distances.
Even if we take an example of a builder working on building a house. If they increase their ability to carry out work for longer periods, lift heavier object off the ground and keep themselves more mobile they increase their ability to do their job more effectively and efficiently.
The same could be said for an office worker too. When they sit at a desk for an exented period of time, their hips and glutes will have imbalances, their shoulders will round and their daily motion will decrease. By taking a functional fitness class to improve their functional fitness they can help reverse imbalances, improve their mobility and increase their daily motion to improve heart health.
What are the best Functional Fitness Exercises?
When we answer the question what are the best functional fitness exercises we need to look at the types of movements in the gym that replicate real-life activities the most and how common those real-life activities are.
The main and probably most effective functional fitness exercise is the squat. We as humans spend most of our lives sitting or lieing down, then standing up, walking to sit down again. Sitting at the dining table, in our cars, sat at a desk for work or on the sofa, performing weighted squats, increasing your mobility and improving your ability to squat will help improve your real-life function of these activities.
The second most effective functional fitness exercise is the deadlift. Lifting up object from the ground is a very common activity for most people around the world. Performing and improving your deadlift will help with this real-life functional activity.
Many also argue that a pull up is another of the main functional fitness exercises but this movement requires more strength that the others to perform and possibly has less applicability to real life. However it does work an increasingly common aspect of functional fitness, grip strength.
What are the 7 Functional Fitness Movements?
Squat, lunge, push, pull, hinge, twist, and walk: These make up the seven movement patterns that your body relies on to get ish done every day.
Squatting down to sit or to pick up something from the ground is essential for every day life. Much like the squat however, kneeling down to pick something up or to get closer to the ground transfers over from the lunge. The push aspect looks at projecting objects away from your body, whether that is pushing the ground away when getting up off the floor or even pushing a door open. The Pull aspect is again much like the push but reversed, pulling a door open for example. The hinge is where your torso hinges at the hip, most commonly to pick something up off the floor. The twist is focussed around where you're moving your torso to either reach something or for example to throw something. Finally the walk is self explanatory, most people walk every day!
What are examples of functional fitness workouts?
Firstly a functional fitness workout needs to engage multiple muscle groups as well as focus on different energy systems with different workouts. The first workout we have outlined looks at some of the most transferable movements to be performed at a moderate intensity so that you're able to focus on those movements.
Equipment - 25kg DBs M/20kg DBs F
3 rounds of:
30 metres weighted Farmers Walk
8 Suitcase Deadlift
6 DB Front Squat
4 DB Push Press
This workout should work most of your muscle groups in your body and will also improve your capacity to work over 12-15 minutes.
This next functional fitness workout should again work many of your muscle groups but you will work for a longer duration, calling on different energy systems here.
Equipment - Rowing Machine, Box 24", Pull Up Bar, Sled (60kg M/30kg F)
Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM) for 30 minutes
1:00 Row For Calories
1:00 Burpee Box Jump
1:00 Sled Push For Metres
With this workout, record your score in calories, reps and metres and then you can compare when you do this workout again in the future.
Should I do Functional Fitness?
Yes yes and more yes! Building your functional fitness can transfer over really easily to every day activities and training your functional fitness is a must, no matter what your experience level, age, gender or your prefferred training methodology.
Let me know how you get on with your functional fitness in the comments section below.