Functional Fitness: Why You Need To Practice It

You’re a regular gym goer with a toned body. Yet taking the stairs and standing up leaves you in pain. This means you are most likely not practicing functional fitness. These type of exercises trains your muscles to help you do everyday activities safely and efficiently.

Functional fitness focuses on training and developing your muscles so that they function better outside of the gym. The exercises stimulate common movements that you’d regularly perform, teaching the muscles to work together. By performing these exercises, your body is better prepared when dealing with tasks like walking down the stairs.

A squat is a functional exercise as it focuses on the muscles used when you stand up from a chair or when you pick up an object off the ground.  A lunge is another example of a functional exercise. It mimics the act of vacuuming.

Why functional fitness?

According to Greg Roskopf, a biomechanics consultant who’s worked with athletes, conventional weight training doesn’t teach your muscles to work together. The first thing you should do is learn how to support your own weight. An example of a balance exercise is a one-legged squat. Only once you’ve learnt to control your own body weight, can you then add extra weights. Perform the one-legged squat with a 2kg dumbbell and this’ll teach your upper body to work with your lower body.

Functional fitness improves balance, agility and muscle strength- especially in older people.

Functional fitness exercises

1. Squatting

Any move that involves sitting and standing is considered a squat. This action demands core strength. Functional exercises that can strengthen your core in this manner are jump squats and overhead dumbbell squats.

A deep squat can help increase hip mobility which can prevent lower back pain and other injuries.

2. Picking items off the floor- dead-lifts

When picking up items off the floor, people often pull their back muscles, resulting in a lot of pain.  When lifting, your spine needs to be straight and your shoulders pulled back. Functional exercises that teach you how to properly lift include single-arm dead-lifts.

3. Placing things overhead- overhead press

Lifting something to place it on a shelf above your head can often leave you staggering. This movement relies on core strength so it is advisable that you choose an exercise that focuses on your abs, glutes, and quads. Performing an overhead press is fine.

4. Reaching and rotating- body chops

The action of reaching back to grab something out of your bag or simply to speak to a colleague affects your obliques. A dumbbell chop mimics the reaching and rotating action and it also focuses on your hip flexors and quads. These exercises keep the spine healthy and agile.

5. Power and energy- energy exercises like burpees

Being able to run up a flight of stairs requires a lot of energy and power. Exercises that focus on increasing your power are quick and energetic. Examples of these are squat jumps and burpees. These actions will advance your body strength, making you quicker on your feet.

Functional fitness is the best investment you can make when it comes to exercising. Not only do the techniques increase your body’s synergy but they show you that there’s more to fitness than just looking good.

Click here to find out what role core exercises should play in your overall exercise plan.

Want to find out more?

There is actually a reason behind why boxers. MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters and athletes do it! And since more people are trying out combat sports, you might as well try out their fitness favourite, jump rope.