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Functional Fitness: What is it?

May 23, 2013

Functional FitnessWhen someone tells you that exercise is good for you, you should believe them. For one, exercise keeps you fit and healthy. In addition, it allows you look good, which increases your self-confidence and self-esteem.

What people do not realize, however, is that exercise helps you live a better life. It actually makes your mind more active, and it helps you move more efficiently than usual. Everything about you can work better, brighter, and stronger if you keep your exercise routine a constant in your life.

What is functional fitness?

Functional fitness exercises are actually what make you move better in life, literally. This is what connects working out to real life actions such as lifting objects, walking distances, or even taking care of your kids. Mayoclinic.com has explained functional fitness as:

“Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability. For example, a squat to bicep curl is a functional exercise because it trains the muscles used when you pick up an object from the floor or a table. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of common situations.

Functional fitness exercises can be done at home or at the gym. Gyms may offer functional fitness classes or incorporate functional fitness into boot camps or other types of classes. Exercise tools, such as fitness balls, kettle bells and weights, are often used in functional fitness workouts.”

In a nutshell, you can consider functional fitness exercises as the key to actually amplifying the effects of your workout, so much that it really helps you in living in the real worlds. A few words of caution though… Be careful because there are workouts that are mistaken as functional fitness routines but do not actually produce the same effects. Crossfitpersist.com explains this:

“Unfortunately, the majority of the fitness community is gravely missing the mark with regard to functionality and is misleading the public into a black hole of wasted time and effort. Functional has become an overused term in the library of fitness literature and has been butchered by the commercial fitness industry. This term has been erroneously applied to any number of useless movements produced on grossly overpriced equipment and an unlimited supply of infomercial gizmos and gadgets. Add to this the propensity toward muscle-specific weight training, and we have a fitness culture of great looking but functionally useless machines and human specimens. The sad truth is the physical exertion required to complete a repetition of any one of these movements lacks any parallel to reality. If we can’t make it analogous to daily life, common sense would tell us it is not functional exercise. Functional exercise replicates functional movement, that is, those movements we use to get average things done in our daily lives. Standing from a seated position, placing things overhead, pulling ourselves up, throwing, running, picking things up-these are all functional movements. A functional fitness regimen, then, would be one that utilizes functional exercises to address and enhance our ability to successfully complete these types of everyday tasks.”

What functional fitness exercises can you incorporate to your workout?

To kick off whatever functional fitness program you choose for yourself, you may follow the basic start up exercise from webmd.com to initially guide you:

“Your first step, Roskopf says, should be to teach your body to control and balance its own weight. “Start with simple movements, like the one-legged squat, and other balance exercises. Then try standing on one leg on a step-stool that’s perhaps eight inches high, and then lower the heel of your other foot to the ground, while controlling your body weight as you go down and back up.” Switch sides during each maneuver to promote balance and muscle integration on either side of your body.

Once you can control and balance your own body weight, then you can start working with added weights. “Put a five-pound dumbbell on a level chair, and then do the same one-legged squat, but this time pick up the dumbbell as you come up,” suggests Roskopf. “Next, pick up the same weight from the ground while doing the squat. That’s challenging your total body integration, and teaching the upper body to work with the lower body.

Other popular tools that promote functional exercise are things like stability balls and the “wobble board,” both of which force you to work your core to keep your body balanced while you’re lifting a weight.”

To follow that up, you may work around the functional fitness workouts prepared by Michelle Borboa of sheknows.com to complete one whole functional fitness program:

Stair Climb with Bicep Curl
Hip Extension with Reverse Fly
Diagonal Reach with Medicine Ball
Lunge with Backrow
Push Up with Hip Extension
Torso Rotation with Medicine Ball
Supine Bridge with Arm Extension
Dynamic Prone Plank

Now that you have something to guide you, just get your body in the mode for it, work on it, and live life with the best form of body. Nothing great comes easy, as these functional fitness workouts don’t exactly look like the easiest routines. But with these, you get the best possible results for your daily life and the perfect fit body to get you through whatever physically taxing daily activities you may encounter.

Category: Body Workout