Functional training is a bit of a fitness trend at the moment. However, it’s popular for a reason. It’s certainly worth considering if you’re on a mission to improve your health and fitness in the long-term. But, what is it? Is it an effective form of exercise? Are there different ways to do it? You might’ve asked yourself these questions and we’re here to help you in this article.
What is Functional Fitness?
Functional training is focused on strength, for the most part. It features compound moves that utilise more than one muscle group within one movement. For example, when you work your biceps by doing bicep curls, you focus on just that one muscle. You’ll certainly build some strength and endurance that way, assuming you’re using the appropriate weights and number of repetitions, but it’s still an isolated movement. In fact, if you look around a gym, you’ll soon realise the machines tend to focus on one muscle each. Functional fitness argues that this isn’t a) efficient or b) how the body should function.
Free weights and bodyweight exercises prioritise and improve stability, coordination and strength. This has the overarching aim of improving functionality in how you go about your day-to-day life as well as your athleticism.
Is functional fitness important?
Like other types of exercise, functional fitness is wonderful for your health. You’ll gain strength, mobility and power that extends what you can do in a gym.
What are the benefits of functional fitness?
Everyday activities get easier
If you improve your overall body functionality by increasing the strength of your muscles and endurance, you’ll develop better stability. This will translate into everyday activities and you’ll find they’re a lot easier to complete than before.
Compared to the outcomes of other types of exercise, this benefit outweighs a lot of conventional workouts. Its goal is to make things you would naturally do in your everyday routine easier. You’ll be less tired as a result, which will have a further positive impact on your mental health as you feel better equipped to manage your day.
Functional fitness doesn’t require any high impact on your body. As a result, it’s also accessible for all people of all abilities and fitness levels. There’s a starting point for everyone. There are different sessions you can try from novice to expert; it’s just about knowing your fitness style. It can be tricky at first to figure out your fitness needs and what movements you should work on, but once you do, your muscles and joints will thank you! They’ll repay you by lasting a lot longer as you get older!
You’ll increase your balance, posture flexibility and coordination
The range of motion needed in functional fitness is large. You should be start and end in a position that stretches your muscles. A key goal of a movement is to feel resistance. Boosting your functional strength results in better flexibility and thus better coordination. This is when you’ll see it paying off in your daily activities.
The exercises require you to utilise multiple muscles to improve your overall strength. Again, this leads into better posture. Something we could all use, especially if your job means you’re sat in a chair at a desk all day, potentially slouching. You achieve this because functional training needs you to use the smaller muscle groups that support the larger ones. This also benefits you by reducing your risk of over-training.
Reduction of joint paint
If you suffer from back, neck or any other joint pain then functional fitness is only going to serve you well. It’s known for being the perfect middleman between a personal trainer and physiotherapist. Because it’s designed to improve your overall body function, back, neck, knee or other joint pain can be reduced significantly. Imagine how you’ll feel if you could walk longer distances without your ‘bad knee’ playing up? The pain of daily tasks that were once hindered can be greatly alleviated.
Reduce your risk of injuries
Practicing functional fitness over conventional training methods reduces your risk of injuries because it puts far less stress on your body. Essentially, it’s mimicking natural everyday movements. This has been evident in runners who reported far less pain having followed a functional fitness routine alongside their other training. Again, this is because of the effort put on the smaller muscle groups to support the larger ones.
You’ll build muscle
You might wonder if this is possible, considering it’s low impact. The concept of working multiple muscle groups means you’re training several areas simultaneously. Your results will be improved strength and muscle gain.
Hopefully, you’re energised and empowered to get your teeth into your first functional fitness training session. You don’t need any equipment to get started, and there are plenty of novice workouts online to get you going. You’ll be able to create your own bespoke sessions once you know exactly what it is your body needs.
It’s advisable to have a fitness tracker to monitor your progress. For functional fitness fans, we think a multisport watch is a great companion, The likes of the Forerunner 945 is a perfect device, in particular. We reviewed it against the Garmin Fenix 6, and you can read that article here.
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