Functional fitness is a term tossed around in the fitness world, much like core training and HIIT. It seems like everyone’s doing it but we’re not always 100% what it means. Simply put, functional fitness is moving and training your body in a way that mimics the activities that you do in your everyday life. Breaking it down even further, there are activities that almost all of us do everyday – carrying things, getting in and out of vehicles, reaching overhead, bending, twisting and even squatting to sit on the toilet. Then there are the activities that may be specific to us individually – playing a sport, lifting and carrying small children, sitting at a desk, driving for long periods, etc. Any exercise that takes our activities into account can be considered functional!
So if we are already doing those movements, why train that way? Unfortunately our bodies are always looking for a shortcut to do repetitive movements, which means we set ourselves up for muscle imbalances and overuse injuries. Functional training can balance out these problems and be used preventatively and as part of a rehabilitation process. We of course, prefer you be preventative.
What should a functional exercise include? For an exercise to be considered functional, we look for it to include elements such as multi-joint, multi-directional, rotation, balance, proprioception and uneven loads. Of course every exercise will not include every element but at least one and some maybe more. We’ve created a video of six our favourite functional exercises. These can be completed by everyone and done almost anywhere; you may just need to be creative on what tool you use! Click on the video to watch now.
To start with we recommend that you do 2-4 sets of each exercise for 12-15 reps with a 30-60 second break for a beginner or 8-12 reps for intermediate to advance. Chose a load (weight) that allows you to complete the exercise with good form but is challenging.
Once you feel comfortable with the exercises and if trying to increase your intensity is a goal, we recommend that you complete each exercise for time, with little to no rest between exercises. An example would be to complete the exercise for 20-40 seconds, move to the next exercise with zero to 10 seconds of rest and continue that pattern till you have completed all six. Rest for a full minute and then repeat 2-4 times through.
If the thought of fitting in your fitness is overwhelming and you’re just not sure where to start, we’ve created our Fit in Fitness, seven-day program. This will take you from feeling overwhelmed to having clear and defined goals, as well as providing you with the tools you need to achieve them. If this sounds like something you need, click on the link below to sign up for this FREE (yes, completely FREE) program.