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Functional Fitness: Moves You Can Use

By Martha Michael

Functional Fitness: Moves You Can Use

From getting out of bed in the morning to collecting the mail, almost all of your daily activities put your body in motion. If your routine includes exercise, you can be confident you’re contributing to a healthier lifestyle, but incorporating “functional fitness” into your program adds practical, immediate benefits.

Adding functional training exercises to your routine can benefit anyone, whether you teach, cook, or work at a desk all day. Functional fitness offers a boost to your overall wellness by involving multiple muscle groups and conditioning for everyday tasks.

They’re moves you can use.

What Is Functional Fitness?

If you’ve ever reached for something on the top shelf and felt a stitch in your side, you know your body’s not completely prepared for everything you put it through.

An article on the website for Anytime Fitness defines functional fitness as a practice of strength training that gets you ready for common daily activities involving pushing, pulling, twisting, bending, lifting, and squatting. The application to real life circumstances makes functional workouts more practical than conventional fitness programs.

While other popular fitness styles have a structure that singles out each muscle group, most functional fitness movements involve multiple joints and muscles, engaging your hips, spine, knees, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. The purpose is to build strength and increase range of motion. One of the best examples of functional fitness moves is squatting because it’s a stance people take multiple times a day. It makes a lot of sense to develop strength in your legs and core so it’s easy for you to sit and stand repeatedly.

What Are the Benefits of Functional Fitness?

Unlike other active choices such as yoga, functional fitness is designed to mimic the movements you make in your daily life rather than introducing positions you rarely use. One of its best features is that functional training has benefits for people of all ages and levels of ability, according to an article on the website for Core Health & Fitness. It involves movement in all directions at various speeds using equipment that engages muscles throughout the body.

Efficiency - In the same way that athletic coaches design workouts to prepare their players for top performance, a fitness program including functional movement can improve your ability to move efficiently.

Body sculpting - Rather than killing yourself on a treadmill three times a week as your only form of exercise, using the entire body when working out is more likely to create a lean, fit body type. Many people who adhere to a functional fitness workout find they’ve sculpted a more muscular, athletic shape.

Mobility - When your workout includes full body movements, you increase your range of motion. Integrated movement patterns, such as pushing and pulling while standing, can improve joint mobility, and a pulling pattern increases the range of motion in your shoulders.

Reduced risk of injury - Repetition of exercises using multiple muscles can improve your coordination, and better coordination can reduce the risk of injury. Your muscles and joints work together better, leading to more stability.

Lean muscle mass - From medicine ball throws to HIIT moves, when you use muscle fibers you limit atrophy. You gain strength and definition rather than losing it, which happens as you age.

Easier tasks - When your body has the benefit of functional fitness training, the strength you build should make your tasks easier to complete.

Functional Fitness Exercises

The type of training you choose has a lot to do with your goals. If you’re an everyday person whose gym visits are classified as a hobby, not aimed at meeting professional standards, functional fitness can provide what you need to improve your quality of life.

An article by Healthline describes some effective functional fitness exercises you can add to your exercise program.

Chest Press

There are many occasions when you need the ability to push yourself up from a surface, and an incline chest press or push-up works the muscles involved.

Lie down at a 45-degree angle holding dumbbells in both hands. Extend the arms high in the air above your head and bend your elbows to bring the weights to your chest, then extend them again. Do two sets of 15 reps.

Plank

Holding the plank position gives you greater balance while you also build strength.

Get down on your hands and knees with your body weight distributed evenly. Lift your legs off the floor so your weight is shared between your palms and your toes. Hold until your arms tire and repeat twice.

Squat

Gaining strength through squatting can make the sit-stand movement easier.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your arms at your sides. Bend your knees slowly while pushing your hips backward as if sitting in a chair. Bring your arms straight in front of you as you sit, then return to standing. Do two sets of 15 reps.

Rowing

This helps you with unloading objects from the trunk of a car or pulling heavy objects from cupboards or similar movements.

Anchor a set of resistance bands on a wall or in a doorway across from you, slightly above your height. Sit back on a chair or bench while holding the taut bands. Pull your elbows back and pause for one second, then release. Do two sets of 15 reps.

Step Down

Adding this exercise to your functional fitness workout mimics exiting a vehicle or walking up and down stairs.

Stand next to a step or a taller object such as a bench for a greater workout. Place one foot on the step and push up, applying your weight to that foot while your other leg becomes straightened. Then lower your straight leg to return to the floor. Do two sets of 15 reps on each side.

Kettlebell Swing

You strengthen the muscles in your back, glutes, and hamstrings when you swing weights in front of your body. It improves your ability to grip and maintain balance for tasks from housework to gardening.

Stand with a kettlebell to the left of your left foot and spread your legs slightly farther apart than your hips. Bend your knees and hinge forward at the waist as you pick up the weight. Swing it through your legs and back in front of you. Do 10 sets of 3 swings each.

Many of the exercises in a typical functional fitness program don’t require equipment, so if you don’t have weights or resistance bands you’re still in a strong position to see the benefits. Feel free to ask your chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic for some guidance.

Sometimes people who are in top physical condition have admirable strength and endurance, but they lack the ability to perform everyday activities. Functional fitness enables you to put your body in motion and improve your performance whether you’re a server or a supermom.

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