‘Functional Fitness’ or ‘Functional Training’ has been a buzzword in the fitness world for a while, but should you be hopping on the bandwagon?
Why Functional Training?
Functional fitness is a type of exercise that’s designed to train your muscles, making it easier to do everyday tasks whilst avoiding injury. It doesn’t immediately make sense to everyone – why would you need to train for activities you do everyday? Well, what about when you’re picking up heavy things, lifting yourself onto things or running (either for pleasure, or after your kids!) Being buff with huge biceps may look great, but that kind of strength can only be utilized in pushing or lifting heavy things. If you’re an office worker, a strong core can help your posture, so you’re not hunched over at your desk staring at an Excel spreadsheet in despair!
Basically, being ‘gym fit’ and strong is great, but can you transfer it – say, if you wanted to go on a hike, haul moving boxes or go rock climbing?
Why is it different?
Functional Training focuses on training groups of muscles to work together in tandem. Due to this, it can help you to do things that engage many muscles at once. In life we use multiple planes of movement, not just up and down. Instead of single-plane exercises like pull-ups, functional training trains the body for everyday multi-plane movements. Normal weight and strength training isolates muscles and is great for muscle mass – but that’s not how your body is designed!
Your body’s made to have muscle groups working together to complete a goal – so why not teach it to do what it already does, but better?
What are the benefits?
- There’s a strong emphasis on core training within functional fitness – great if you’re looking to get toned abs! Core muscles support the rest of the body; so strengthening them is great for your balance. You should also find other exercises easier, as many need a strong core.
- If you suffer from arthritis or tendonitis, functional training can be great. Training muscle groups to work in tandem takes stress off of your joints, which can give some much-needed relief from joint aches.
- As functional training targets all muscles within a group, it strengthens the smaller connecting muscles that intense strength workouts often miss – so it can make for less injuries!
Another benefit of functional training is that you can start at any level – you start with core training to gain balance and the ability to hold your own weight in different positions. You then add extra weights to work out the lower and upper body together – no complex routines here!
Isn’t this only for elderly people?
The short answer is No. Functional training is often recommended for elderly people as a means of staying fit and limber – but that doesn’t mean it’s only for your grandma! Training can come in all intensity levels, not everybody has to go at the same pace. If you want to take up something new like rock climbing or hiking, become fitter or just improve your quality of life – functional fitness can be for you!
So… will you be looking up functional fitness classes near you? Or are you more comfortable with your current gym routine? Let us know, we love to hear from you!