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What is functional fitness?

What is Functional Fitness?

Before we introduce the concepts of functional fitness, I want to first point out there is no real wrong way to exercise, or to increase your fitness. We all live different lifestyles that call for different fitness stimulus. While there is no “wrong” way to train, there can be instances in which people are training in such a way that is not right for them. There are a couple of factors to consider when determining if your training regime is right for you.

First, is your program moving you towards your personal goals? If your goal is to get better at rock climbing and all you do is run on the treadmill, that treadmill training is not going to help you to progress in reaching your goal.

Secondly, are you training pain free as well as maintaining proper technique to minimize risk of injury? The technique behind all movements in any training program should be over-emphasized and highly valued. After all, ideally, we should have fitness in our lives, for as long as we can walk and talk. We should always be working to improve our technique and when and if there is pain, we rest and recover accordingly.

Now, let’s take a look into functional fitness, and how this concept of training can improve your fitness and your life.

Functional fitness is basically a way to train your body that carries over into the movements of your daily life. We are constantly picking things up off the floor. The couch, the groceries, picking up children, or even a marker we dropped on the ground. What would this movement simulate if we were to put it in the gym? If you said Deadlift, then you are right! What if you are a police offer and had to climb up and over a fence to catch a perpetrator? That would mimic the Muscle-Up. You see how what you do in your lifestyle that dictates how you should train? There are many more examples of movements we do every day that carry over to some of the movements we see in fitness. Training with the intention of using movements that carry over to improving how you move about your daily life is developing functional fitness.

Now, why would it be important to incorporate functional fitness into your training program? Training with movements that have functionality, improve every aspect of our lives. For most of us, if we are fitness savvy, we also live active, adventurous lifestyles. It would make sense that if someone were a car mechanic, working on deadlifts, presses, and grip strength would easily carry over to improve their daily physical demands. If you are an avid hiker, using hill sprints, stair stepping, lunges and squats would lend itself to greatly improve your ability to hike on more difficult trails. It is important to note, that there are many movements that do contribute to muscular hypertrophy or improve cardiovascular capacity to a degree, but these movements are not actually functional. The treadmill is a great example of this. While someone could sustain a high level heart rate for a considerable amount of time, the treadmill does not actually mimic any movement we’d find in our daily lives. The ground does not move for us, we must move our bodies above the ground, so running outside would be functional. Another example is using the machines in the gym that isolate certain muscles. While we may find that the muscle itself gets larger, there are very few machines that actually mimic the movements we’d do in our daily lives. The bicep curl or the leg press, may be beneficial to incorporate, but these movements are not complete in and of themselves. We would be more likely to have to pull ourselves up over a wall, than having an instance of bicep curling with our elbows rested on an object.

Functional fitness is exactly that: Functional. You train in a way that would improve the daily physical demands of your life. Beyond that, the potential for strength, speed, agility, balance, flexibility, and coordination is essentially limitless. More often than not, people train with functional fitness that goes beyond their physical needs. I personally don’t NEED to train ring dips, as my lifestyle rarely calls for that movement, but if at any time in my life I come across a situation where I will need to dip out of a wrecked car, or in any other scenario, I will be ready. Functional fitness can not only prepare you for your daily life, but it can prepare you for the unknown. Every day you improve on your functional fitness, is another day closer to being able to handle ANYTHING life could possibly throw at you. There’s no “wrong” way to train; but there is a way to train that can help you best prepare for a long and adventurous life! If you stay ready, you won’t ever have to get ready. Stay ready friends, and continue to SHINE! Starz Franchises are now available in 48 states- consider joining our team of owners and bring SHINE to your community!

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