In the realm of fitness, trends come and go, but one concept that has stood the test of time is functional fitness. More than just a buzzword, functional fitness is a training approach that prepares your body for real-life movements and activities.
But what exactly is functional fitness, and why is it important?
In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the meaning of functional fitness, explore the seven fundamental movements of functional training, and uncover the benefits of this training approach.
Let's get started!
Understanding Functional Fitness
Functional fitness, at its core, is about training your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work, or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.
For example, a squat is a functional exercise because it trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or pick up low objects. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of situations.
The 7 Movements of Functional Training
Functional training typically revolves around seven basic movements. These movements form the foundation of any good functional training program:
Squat: The squat is a vital functional movement that mimics the action of sitting down and standing up. It targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, which are essential for lower body strength and hip mobility. Squats also engage your core, providing stability and balance.
Lunge: The lunge replicates the action of walking or running, emphasizing one leg at a time. This movement enhances balance, coordination, and unilateral strength. It primarily targets the quadriceps, but also works the glutes, hamstrings, and core.
Hinge: The hinge movement is similar to bending over to pick something up. It strengthens the posterior chain, including the back, glutes, and hamstrings. This movement is crucial for maintaining proper posture and preventing lower back injuries.
Push: Pushing movements, like pushing a door open or pushing an object away from the body, primarily work the chest, shoulders, and triceps. These movements are essential for tasks that require force to be exerted away from the body.
Pull: Pulling movements, like pulling a door closed or pulling an object towards the body, primarily work the back and biceps. These movements are crucial for tasks that require force to be exerted towards the body.
Rotation: This movement involves rotating the torso, an essential movement in almost all sports. Twisting movements engage the core, specifically the obliques, promoting better stability and rotational strength.
Gait: Gait refers to locomotion achieved through the movement of human limbs. Walking and running are the most basic forms of gait. These movements engage multiple muscle groups, improve coordination, and are fundamental to human movement.
These movements are not only the basis of many everyday activities but also core components of many sports and exercises.
Benefits of Functional Training
Functional training offers numerous benefits that contribute to your overall health and well-being. Here are some key benefits:
Improved Daily Functionality: By training your muscles to work together, functional training can make everyday activities easier, from lifting heavy objects to bending or twisting your body.
Increased Muscle Strength and Balance: Functional training can help improve your muscle strength and balance, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
Enhanced Joint Mobility and Stability: Functional training exercises can increase joint mobility and stability, improving your range of motion and reducing the risk of injury.
Better Posture: Functional training often involves compound movements that strengthen your core, the critical area for maintaining good posture.
Greater Muscle Memory: By replicating everyday life movement patterns, functional training enhances your muscle memory, making regular activities easier and more efficient.
Incorporating Functional Training into Your Routine
Now that you understand what functional training is and the benefits it offers, you might be wondering how to incorporate it into your routine. Here are some tips:
Start with Basic Movements: Begin with the seven fundamental movements of functional training. As you become more comfortable, you can start adding more complex exercises to your routine.
Use Your Body Weight: Many functional training exercises don't require gym equipment. Exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups can be done using your body weight.
Focus on Form: Proper form is crucial in functional training to prevent injuries. Consider working with a trainer or physical therapist to ensure you're performing exercises correctly.
Listen to Your Body: Functional training should enhance your body's functionality, not cause pain or discomfort. If an exercise doesn't feel right, modify it or try a different one.
For a comprehensive guide to performing functional movements and variations correctly, check out our full exercise library.
Functional fitness is more than a trend; it's a lifestyle change that can improve your strength, flexibility, and overall quality of life. By focusing on the movements we use every day, functional training helps us perform those movements more easily and without injury. Whether you're lifting heavy boxes or playing with your kids, functional fitness prepares you for life's many challenges. So why not give it a try? Your body will thank you.
Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?
Most of us know that eating well, regular activity, and managing our sleep and stress levels are important for a healthy life. Still, we struggle to apply that information into our already busy lives. That's why the Active Wave coaching programs help you create a strategy to lose fat, get stronger, and improve your health, all in the context of your own life. We know that's the only way to keep those changes for good, no matter what situation you're in. If you'd like to chat about how you can start to change your life and reach your health and fitness goals, book a free, 10 minute call with one of our coaches today!