The Fundamentals Of Functional Fitness:Getting Back To Basics

If you are an exercise lover who wants to keep abreast with all the up and coming new exercising methods and trends, then you have to just check out what functional fitness workouts can do for your body.

Why? Because functional fitness focuses on working all of your muscles together so that when you are working at home or at the office, all your muscles are ‘prepared’ to see you through whatever stress you put on them.

The emphasis is really on your core stability. So instead of working the machines that emphasize only certain muscles of your body, everything gets toned with functional fitness.

Look at it like this; if you are in quite a good state of health, you should get through your days with relative ease.

But if you have noticed that you are feeling lethargic, you are exhausted and you can’t seem to find the energy to end your day, then it will be a good idea to start somewhere and functional fitness exercises is the ideal way.

Even so, if you do seem to be getting through your days without too many problems, it doesn’t mean that you can’t strive to supersede the requirements of enhancing your levels of fitness beyond and above the basic level requirements.

What Is Functional Fitness?

Let’s first explain more the idea of functional fitness. Unfortunately, exercising on machines in the gym can take quite a bit away from core stability and fitness; sure, it can give you an aesthetic look, but real fitness and strength?

The whole idea of functional fitness is teaching your muscles to all work together as one unit. If you do your functional exercises correctly, then all your joints and muscles get strengthened together.

Your agility, strength, balance and endurance, posture and coordination all are worked on together.

If you are getting excited about getting into functional fitness workouts, a good start would be getting down to full body weight exercising.

You could start off with single-leg type movements, for example doing a one-legged squat.

Functional fitness exercises:one-legged squat.

Stand on your one leg and extend the other leg out in front of you, straight. Keeping your one leg bent slightly at the knee, extend the other leg out in front of you without bending it. Your toes on the extended foot should be pointing towards the ceiling.

You need to keep upper body erect as your head faces forward and your pelvis tucked under. Roll shoulders back, without rounding them.

With your knee kept centered over the ball of your foot, lower yourself into a squatting position, starting with shallow squats.

Work your way down and closer to the ground, repeating 3 rounds of 10 squats per leg.

You will develop balance, coordination, and strength and if you wish, you can hold weights in your hand, or a medicine ball which will improve your strength even more.

Do the single-leg deadlift as well. Like this:

functional exercises:single-leg deadlift

Stand with your feet on the ground about shoulder length apart.
Grab yourself a barbell with your arms extended fully towards the ground, hands also about shoulder-width apart.

Let your palms face your thighs. Lift one foot a few inches from the floor raising it behind you while you slightly bend the knee of your other leg.

All these extra items will work your core but also will focus on your balance. As you gain confidence, you will then want to start adding weights to your routine.

As mentioned above, the single-leg deadlift is excellent, with weights. Another good one is the clean and press. Total body power and strength is achieved with these movements.

Do You Need A Personal Trainer?

Once you feel you have the right stability starting with your functional exercises and you are achieving the above exercises in the correct forms, then maybe it is time to move on to a personal trainer.

A personal trainer will show you other elements of functional exercises such as the Bosu, or the wobble board, or using stability balls.

Working with a personal trainer will help you to achieve your fitness goals. You also know that you are learning them in a safe, responsible and effective manner.

The personal trainer will assess your fitness levels at that moment in time that you enroll, developing for you a customized workout program that will deliver highly effective and efficient programs – meant to build muscle and burn fat, but also to improve your cardiovascular health at the same time.

Functional training that is taught to you by a personal trainer who is qualified will go a long way in improving your everyday routine activities very capably.

Functional exercises reduce the risks of any injuries and improve greatly on your quality of life.

So answer to the above question is yes, invest in a trained personal trainer, because before you start with functional exercising, they will probably be able to identify any physical habits or past injuries that could be changing the way your body functions.

They will help you to rebuild the basic movements in order for your body to operate more efficiently and comfortably during the day.

Fundamental Movements

Train with a purpose to achieve the extraordinary. Getting into functional fitness exercises, you will experience life becoming easier.

Like if you get into the habit of doing squats, you are going to make the activities of picking up your luggage or getting out of a chair so much easier.

That’s because functional fitness is all about movements that all your other movements are built on.

Fundamental movements are functional, and here are some fundamental movements that humans do:

  • Squatting
  • Lunging
  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Hinges
  • Bracing
  • Rotating

Bracing is a functional exercise movement that is fundamental to all the other movements.

Why? Because your core muscles need to get exercise in order to stabilize the spine.

It makes sense then that bracing is like building the foundation of the house and all the other movements are like the house structure.

Locomotive Movements

All these fundamental movements are functional and practicing them will make your day to day activities a whole lot easier.

But there are other movements that are also considered functional. These are called locomotive movements and they are the movements that move your body one place to the next. Locomotive movements are:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Leaping
  • Jumping
  • Hopping
  • Galloping
  • Skipping
  • Shuffling from side to side or sliding

You get even more complex types of locomotive movements which should also be practiced. These are:

  • Climbing
  • Crawling

All locomotive movements are held by important fundamental movements. It is a good idea to practice the locomotive movements as well, particularly the climbing, jumping, running and crawling ones, but it’s those 7 fundamental movements that will give you the capacity to do these other ones so easily.

To understand it basically, functional fitness is practicing movements that just make your everyday activities to be carried out more easily, reducing the risk of getting injured.

It’s important to practice all the fundamental movements at levels that are appropriate for you, not for anybody else.

Functional Training Vs. Bodybuilding

Functional Training Vs. Bodybuilding

There are critics who call functional training a trend. Unlike Bodybuilding that places emphasis on particular muscle groups if you want to concentrate on your arms or your legs, for instance, Functional training on the other hand places emphasis on the movement patterns.

Though the benefits of bodybuilding are unquestionably proven, lots of people have come to realize that bodybuilding hasn’t really benefited them in their particular field of a sport they want to excel in.

Athletes were inclined to believe that bodybuilding was equal to strength training. But it did not turn out like that. In the end, bodybuilding has shown to be all show with no go.

Women, too, were not into bodybuilding because they were nervous they would get all bulky.

And to combat that, they would try out repeat programs that didn’t do anything to make them stronger and toned.

The main concern in bodybuilding is with prime muscles getting exercised but the stabilizers not so.

At some point, most people starting a regular bodybuilding routine (especially the youngest)) tend to emphasize the use of machines over free weights in the hopes that by only working in that comfort zone, the body will get fit.

It’s going through all the movements, allowing people to lift weights that they probably wouldn’t be able to lift without the help of machines.

Machines do play a definite role as part of a bodybuilding program, but they should not become the top priority of your training.

People who only focus on using these types of equipment don’t really learn to lift that much weights themselves that the machines allow them to lift.

With functional training, the focus is on improving movement patterns that are relevant to everyday life activities.

Even though some critics like to fob off functional training as just a trend, it goes back a long time in history.

Back in the early 1960s Michael Boyle, an expert in functional training field published his book, ‘Functional Training for Sports’.

This book lays foundations for lots of other books and these insights have been applied both in the fitness industry and medical industry today; so effective has it been proven.

Therefore, today these insights have been developed and are still being applied in medical fields and fitness industries.

Functional training is proving that it is way more than just a trend – it’s a philosophy of training with lasting impacts as life’s challenges are faced in such a healthy and prepared way.

Functional Fitness Exercises

Best functional exercises

Here are the top functional training exercises to include in your workouts:

1. Dumbbell reverse lunge with rotation
2. Hip and thoracic openers
3. Single leg dumbbell row
4. Breakdancer push up
5. Yoga squat
6. Turkish GetUp
7. Side lunge with reach
8. Overhead warm-up with dumbbells
9. Stir the pot with stability ball
10. Dumbbell reverse lunge and press
11. Kettlebell snatch
12. Double lunge and reach
13. Stability ball push-ups

Why are Functional Fitness Workouts Different from Other Exercises?

Other exercises and gym work are not designed to really prepare you for all aspects of your daily life like functional exercises do.

It is not just about successfully being able to lift some heavy weights at the gym.

If you are able to do a squat holding a 300-pound weight in your hands, but you cannot walk from your car on your way back home from the office to your front door without feeling all breathless and exhausted, then functional fitness might just be the answer you are looking for.

This style and type of training help exercises to make more well-rounded athletes, and this translates back into your everyday life.

The 3 top types of training styles that compete against functional training exercises are conventional weight training with the use of machines, group classes and doing bodybuilding.

Thing is, there are truth and validity of functional fitness origins. Before it got the name of ‘functional fitness’, our ancestors were practicing it naturally hundreds of years ago already.

There was no new technology back in the day to help, and people depended on their strong and healthy bodies and their tools to survive.

Before modern times, ancient humans would hunt and gather their food and that’s how they survived.

If they were not able to run fast enough to catch their prey or weren’t strong enough to use their weapons, they would not have made the grade, would not have survived.

You surely have heard of the phrase “survival of the fittest”? This was how the human race developed over the years, allowing their bodies to adapt to the environment and what was needed to survive.

Benefits Of Functional Fitness

Benefits of functional fitness

Functional fitness is like going back to those days; to training the body in the way it was designed years ago to be used.

It has the capacity to increase your physical capabilities that you can apply in your real-world job and at home, not just at the gym.

In practical terms, functional fitness means doing things like squats that will strengthen your legs and not the type of leg extensions that you might be used to practicing on a machine at the gym.

What about trying to develop your upper body by doing pull-ups rather than hopping on to the preacher curl machine where really only your arms are worked on?

When a friend invites you to go on a hiking weekend, would you be prepared? Are you able to rush down to the beach and jump onto your surfboard or paddle board without worrying that you will not have the endurance or core strength to get out there and really enjoy yourself?

The added bonus that comes with functional fitness exercises is not only to develop power and strength to your body but the added aesthetic benefits as well.

When you go on that hiking trip or rush down to the beach, people will not only be wondering at your extra stamina and go, but they will be looking in wonder at that Speedo or bikini-clad bod too!

Even if your main purpose was not to really improve your functional fitness for gaining that extra core strength, you are going to feel a million dollars with your streamlined, toned body.

See what benefits are derived from doing functional fitness exercises:

Your everyday lifestyle will improve with ease as you do your activities.
You get better muscle memory because the more your body is performing certain movements or exercises, the more responsive and faster your body will repeat those movements as you go along from day to day.

Because functional exercises are low impact exercises, they are ideal for anybody to try, at any fitness level.

For newbies, functional training helps to improve all the physical abilities and doesn’t cause stress on the joints and body.

It is far more important to practice the right movements and techniques than adding weight.

Increases your coordination and flexibility. The primary goal of functional training is to give you resistance training and by implementing the exercises and programs, you boost your body’s strength as you increase coordination and flexibility.

Posture and balance are improved because multiple muscles are used to improve balance and strength.

Most of the functional exercise workouts are not stabilized; they require you to use your other smaller muscle groups to support and stabilize the bigger ones. This prevents over-training just one muscle group which can lead to incorrect posture.

Good postures form perfect foundations and using functional training workouts helps to boost your balance.

Many people suffer from lower back pain today – when you develop stability and strength in the back through functional exercises, you automatically promote good posture and better posture reduces pain!

Joint pain lessens. If you suffer from muscle, back and joint pain, functional training is hugely beneficial.

It is known to bridge the gap between physical therapy and personal training. It is designed to restore the body back to how it was once designed and meant to move. By doing this, you clear up back, knee, neck and joint pains.

Injury is reduced. Muscular fitness will improve your chronic pain, but it also helps with reducing injury risk as well.

Your everyday movements on a daily basis can leave you writhing in pain on a particular day; be it from an accident, a wrong twist or turn, a fall.

The exercises that go behind functional exercises are so vital because the body mimics, through exercise, the daily functions done each day, making you able to cope with the stresses on the body.

With functional exercises, the surrounding ligaments of the muscles also get strengthened, and this is the area that often stands the risk of being injured.

Conclusion

Are you doing the above to keep you fit and strong? Start today, and see the difference it makes – you won’t’ believe it – get your basic fundamentals right! To put it basically, functional exercises gives you the edge on life; helping your body feel like it can achieve and do anything.

If you are a person, who is over 40 years of age, and you have not been doing exercises for some time, but you love the thought of getting fit with functional exercises, you should first check with your doctor – but this anyone would do when starting out with any new exercise program in any case.

You only really need your body to benefit the most out of your training regime – no machines or other equipment are needed to help you achieve your health goals – you just use your body-weight along with the power of controlled movement to work each and every muscle of your body. You can only go forward from here – give yourself the gift!