At the most basic level, functional fitness refers to exercises that improve daily activity. A functional exercise challenges balance and coordination while simultaneously improving strength and range of motion. It’s about training for life, not events. It is important that we shift our focus from training for events to training for performance and function, making daily activities easier.
To keep your body in top shape, it’s important to incorporate functional fitness into your workouts. Here is how some basic functional movements and exercises help strengthen your body:
Balance & Coordination
A bicep curl on a BOSU Ball doesn’t constitute a functional exercise. In real life, we’re not standing on unstable surfaces very often, if at all.
So try challenging your balance in a stable environment instead, with exercises like single leg balance exercises, lunges, jumping lunges, step-ups, lateral movements, posterior movements, agility drills, and plyometrics. Plus, on stable ground you’ll be able to handle a heavier weight load, which means you’re working at a higher intensity, burning more calories and developing more strength.
Planes of Motion & Range of Motion
Humans are built to move backwards, forwards, up and down, and side-to-side. So we shouldn’t limit our workouts to a single plane of motion. Choose exercises that allow you to move in multiple planes.
Instead of squatting until your legs are parallel with the ground, try going further down. Going into a deep squat will help increase the range of motion in your hips. Similarly, instead of just front lunges, try reverse lunges with an overhead reach or a reaching side lunge to increase range of motion while working in different planes of motion.
Power is a surprisingly important part of everyday life. You run up a flight of stairs, prevent yourself from falling, or reach to catch your cup before it tips; these are all examples of power. Power exercises are quick explosive movements.
Take any exercise, even a compound exercise like the squat-to-press or a burpee and try to perform as many reps in a short time period. You develop total body strength and overall power, so it’s easier to move quickly in real life.
A functional exercise should be a Multi Joint Exercise and, ideally, it should work the upper and lower body. It’s all about creating synergy within our body.
Dumbell chops and medicine ball cross body chops are a few functional exercises that help you with turning and rotating motions of your body. The reaching and rotating action fires up the abs, specifically the obliques, as well as hip flexors and quads.