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What Is Functional Fitness? Should I Be Using It?

You might have heard of functional fitness exercises or functional fitness training. Functional fitness has been a buzzworthy fitness trend, so you're probably feeling left out if you don't know what functional exercise actually is.

Fret not! We've got your back, and functional fitness as a concept is pretty straightforward. We'll explain what it is, the benefits of implementing it into your training program, and why it's getting so much attention in the fitness world lately.

What is Functional Fitness

While the official definition of functional movements are any movements that mimic and support the biomechanics of everyday activities, some believe that that's just good marketing. Functional movements are movements that use the same agonist and joint actions found in activities from everyday life. That's why a kettlebell farmer's carry can help you build strength and carry in more groceries in one trip. A plank can help you get off the ground with less effort, and practicing push-ups can help you harness more power to shove a theoretical attacker.

In short, "functional fitness" means implementing functional biomechanics into your training program, hoping that their benefits will help us with movements in daily life while reducing the risk of injury. For example, sled drags and bodyweight squats will, of course, help strengthen the legs and help build core strength, which can help protect your back while shoveling snow or lifting something heavy.

All of this sounds great, in theory. And the truth is, functional fitness is a great way to replicate the strength training, endurance, and hypertrophic benefits of many of the "classic" compound and single-joint action resistance movements that gym-goers have used for decades.

Another Theory

Some fitness enthusiasts believe that coining these types of movements "functional" when they translate to the movements common in everyday life is just good branding. More accurately, it's stripping these very human movements and exercises from their current branding. What I mean is, a lot of folks believe that so-called "functional fitness" is just a way to benefit from some of CrossFit's favorite exercises without carrying the brand or joining the CrossFit community.

My opinion is that no one brand can really claim ownership over any kind of human form or function. Categorizing exercises that mimic daily activities as "functional" would allow a fitness program creator some flexibility in pairing exercises that might be paired in CrossFit routines, without the copyright headache.

Why Trainers are Using Functional Fitness Exercises

CrossFit inspired or not, functional fitness movements are great for a few reasons. Firstly, because of those mentioned above, including that they can help prevent injuries in day-to-day life that require physical exertion. This is especially important as we are nationally and globally unable to maintain healthy weights, overall. In 2020, more than 2/3 of Americans were overweight, and almost half were obese. With numbers like those, we need to use training as preventative medicine wherever possible.

Functional fitness training can improve quality of life by making daily activities safer and more approachable for the entire body. Functional fitness training often incorporates range of motion movements that help lubricate the joints and prevent stiffness in the joints during exercise and everyday movements.

If your exercise program is starting to become redundant, or you're noticing an extended plateau in reaching your goals through traditional compound exercises and cardio alone, functional fitness can be a great addition to your exercise routine. Functional fitness programs can keep you interested in bodyweight movements, everyday movement patterns, and your fitness journey in general. Sanjana Fitness supports any type of exercise that you can enjoy and remain interested in, long term.

Should I Be Incorporating Functional Fitness Into My Program?

Let's start by looking at the benefits and asking a few questions. Are you bored with your workout program? Do you have the equipment you need to do the exercises you want to incorporate? If not, are you willing to join a CrossFit gym?

Your virtual trainer can write a program for you that incorporates functional fitness to mimic natural movements and help you build muscle strength, muscle mass or reduce your risk of injury. We believe that the type of training you decide to commit to should be the type of training you enjoy. If you're bored with weight training or want to incorporate more functional weight training, a fitness professional can help you on your way.

Ready to start your functional fitness journey or explore some functional training movements with us? Ask your trainer to add some functional training exercises or commit some of your program to simple movements and movement patterns that can help you feel better prepared for daily living.

Not working with a trainer yet? Book a consultation or a 1-on-1 virtual strength training session today, and mention your interest in functional fitness training.

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