Whether you’re a seasoned bodybuilder or just beginning your fitness journey, take a step back to consider why you’re choosing specific exercises or targeting certain muscles. Beyond answers like “running faster,” “gaining strength” or “lifting heavier weights,” think about your fitness goals on a more personal level.
Maybe you want to enhance your balance for the upcoming ski season, safely lift heavy boxes for a big move or ensure you can throw the ball around with your kids. Whatever your goals, functional fitness focuses on getting your body in peak condition for how you realistically use it inside and outside of the gym.
When taking a functional approach to strength training, every exercise is based on a foundational movement pattern, improving how your body functions at home, at work, while exercising or in a sport. It’s a holistic approach to exercise that heavily emphasizes the importance of coordination, balance, form, stretching and flexibility alongside building strength. With functional fitness, it’s not all about getting in more reps or adding more weight to your deadlift — it’s about improving the physical activities you already do in everyday life, at every stage of life.
What IS FUNCTIONAL FITNESS?
Functional fitness is more than a workout — it’s a philosophy that focuses on improving your health, strength, and well-being by intentionally targeting your body’s ability to conduct specific movements safely and efficiently. Rooted in physical therapy, the principles of functional fitness have evolved into a versatile exercise regimen now embraced by mainstream athletes and casual gymgoers alike.
Functional fitness routines integrate a series of exercises that directly reflect the physical motions we make daily, including:
- Hip Hinges
Within each exercise, focusing on proper form and techniques for excellent posture, spine alignment and balance over speed or strength-building is critical. By conditioning the precise muscles, joints and core body functionalities based on your unique goals, you can experience personalized physical conditioning on a practical level.
What Are the benefits of functional fitness?
Functional fitness has many advantages, from gaining a competitive edge on the field to ensuring you can pick up your kids and grandkids for years to come. Additionally, while safety during any workout is essential, functional fitness training prioritizes reducing the risk of back, neck, joint, hip, shoulder and other common exercise-related injuries.
Here is a breakdown of the core principles and benefits that set functional fitness apart:
CORE PRINCIPLES OF FUNCTIONAL FITNESS
- Realistic Movements: Every movement within a functional fitness routine should mimic actions performed on a daily basis. The most common movements include squatting, bending, lunging, pushing, pulling and rotating.
- Holistic Approach: Most everyday physical movements use multiple muscles at once. Rather than targeting a single muscle, most functional exercises target groups commonly worked in unison.
- Form & Safety: Functional fitness strongly focuses on teaching techniques and exercises to help your body avoid strain and injury.
- Functional Strength: By building strength in parallel to flexibility and balance, you’ll enhance your physical performance beyond the number of reps or weight lifted.
- Versatility: Functional fitness offers a wide variety of exercises, keeping workouts engaging and adaptable to different fitness levels.
Functional Fitness vs. Other Workouts: What’s the Difference?
People often ask how functional fitness is different from traditional strength training. While they share many similarities and workout routines, they also have distinct differences:
Strength Training vs. FUNCTIONAL FITNESS
While standard strength training and functional fitness exercises excel in building muscle, endurance, athleticism, and overall health, each modality has unique advantages and intended outcomes.
In strength training and conditioning, athletes often prioritize building muscle mass, increasing weight output, weight loss and targeting specific muscles for growth, typically by pushing bodies to the limit. In functional training, participants complete exercises — often with little to no resistance — to enhance physical readiness for everyday life needs.
What are the Best Functional Fitness Techniques?
Try out a few functional fitness exercises for yourself! These four fundamental routines can be customized to your fitness level:
Note: Start with no or very light weights for your fitness level. Before increasing weight, ensure you’ve fully mastered the form and technique.
- Squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, your chest up and your back straight. Lower your body as if sitting in a chair. Keep your knees aligned with the tips of your toes. As you build strength and perfect your form, gradually add extra weight with kettlebells or medicine balls.
- Deadlifts: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Bend at the hips and knees to grasp the barbell. Lift the bar while keeping your back straight and engaging your core.
- Kettlebell Swings: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the kettlebell with both hands and hinge at your hips. Using the momentum generated by your hips, swing the kettlebell forward and up. Focus on your hip hinge. Press your feet into the ground while you drive your hips forward and swing the kettlebell to fully engage all core muscles.
- Medicine Ball Throws: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold the medicine ball with both hands. Throw it against a wall or to a partner. Catch and repeat.
Why choose a functional fitness routine?
Improve your physical health, actively prevent injury and enhance your everyday performance with functional fitness. If you’re ready to get started, trust the Team at EōS Fitness.
With certified Personal Trainers, innovative amenities, and the EōS Yard: Turf Functional Training Area® — our dedicated space for functional fitness — we’re here to support a more confident and healthier you. Get started today with a Complimentary Welcome Workout.