What is Functional Fitness?

Cardio and strength training usually dominate fitness talk, but what about the often-overlooked concept of functional fitness? At its core, functional fitness is really about focusing on building your body so that it can better handle everyday tasks such as bending over to tie your shoes, playing catch with your dog, or chasing after your kids without the added exhaustion, aches or pains.

Real Life Samples

Let’s think about this from a practical standpoint. Our daily habits cause us to turn, twist, bend, climb and lean to get things done. We’re using our whole bodies, so why not focus on exercises that use multiple muscle groups? Isolated weight training is great, but it doesn’t always help prevent strained backs or pulled muscles.

Exercises like kettlebell squats are a great way to stimulate a real-life scenario – you’re bending down (squatting) using your lower body, and at the same time picking something up (great with the added weight of the kettlebell) using your upper body. Try forward lunges with a twist to help work the lower body, upper body and help stabilize the core. Bent over rows can also help with upper and lower body strength. Bosu balls can also help aid in stability training!

Think about which muscle groups are actively being engaged when performing your desired exercise. If it feels like a move that mirrors real life movements, most likely you’re engaging in functional fitness.

The Benefits

To put it simply – fewer aches and pains! Less strain on your body, less worries about not being able to perform day-to-day activities and more confidence in moving around with a stronger body. If this all sounds like what regular or “normal” exercise does to improve the body, you’re right… sort of.

Functional fitness focuses on movements, rather than muscles.1 In your ordinary day-to-day routine, chances are you’re not doing an activity that focuses on the same muscle repeatedly. Think of lifting a semi-heavy grocery bag, similar to a bicep curl. Sure, you may do this a few times, but realistically you’re not going to be standing in your kitchen doing biceps curls with your grocery bags.

Depending on age and activity level of your life, the functional fitness exercises you’ll want to focus on will vary. If you’re uncertain what’s right for you or where to begin with this type of training, reach out to a representative in the personal training department.

Another alternative is sending your fitness related question to us for a chance for it to be one of our featured ‘Ask A Trainer’ questions on our LA Fitness YouTube channel or Living Healthy blog!

A better life starts with a decision that you deserve more for yourself. LA Fitness is here to help, and functional fitness is a great way to begin your training for the everyday!

Sources:

  1. Roberts, | BY: Amy, and Amy Roberts. “What Is Functional Training and How Can It Benefit You?” The Beachbody Blog, 20 July 2017, www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/functional-training-benefits.

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