For millions of Americans, getting a good workout is a puzzle they’re constantly trying to piece together. For instance, how do you balance weights and cardio? How do activities like yoga and Pilates fit into the routine? If you only have a limited amount of time to work out during the day (thirty minutes, for example), what kind of workout should you focus on? What’s the best nutritional plan to help you make the most of your efforts? Should you focus more on free weights or exercise machines?
If you ask Google these questions, you’ll find many conflicting answers. Everybody has a solution or a system they’re trying to sell, and many of these involve buying fancy equipment. It’s no secret that the exercise industry is worth billions – and often times, the companies behind these products are more concerned about selling an image than giving people a real program that works.
This isn’t one of those blog posts that disparages other workout systems and then proceeds to offer a system of its own. We’re here to talk about an exciting “new” trend that isn’t really new at all; it’s actually more about getting back to basics.
It’s called “functional fitness,” and you may have heard people talking about it. You may even have rolled your eyes and passed it off as the next passing trend – but maybe it’s time to take a closer look at what functional fitness actually is, and why it deserves a fair shake, no matter what your fitness goals.
The easiest way to understand functional fitness is that it trains your body with natural and functional movements. Reaching, bending, lifting, twisting, reaching, pulling – these are movements we perform in everyday life. By contrast, most of the exercises we do in the gym have no direct application to daily life. Leg presses and bicep curls are good examples.
In functional fitness, we train ourselves to get stronger and more adept at those everyday movements. Pulling, running, throwing, standing from a seated posture, lifting things overhead – these are all great examples. When we do these kinds of exercises correctly, we’re not just isolating and training one muscle group. Where make the entire system leaner, stronger and more functional. This is because we’re training different parts of the body, and different muscles groups, to communicate and work together.
We’re also building our core strength with movements like this – and core strength is arguably the best thing we can possibly develop in terms of fitness. When your core is strong, you’re able to perform so many functional movements more smoothly, and with greater strength. Core strength makes you healthier and stronger over all; it improves your posture, your metabolic processes, the way you walk, and even changes your outlook on life.
People who have switched their focus to functional fitness report a long list of benefits, including better stability and balance, increased range of motion, better coordination, higher levels of agility, and the aforementioned core strength, which carries so many benefits on its own.
Functional fitness can involve a lot of different activities, from specialized kettle bell workouts to Jiu Jitsu and other forms of natural resistance and movement. You can spend all day researching functional fitness exercises online, but maybe the best thing to do is get into a functional fitness gym and learn some things first hand. This will be a great first step on your functional fitness journey.