Chasing goals and new personal records can be exciting and challenging. Elite athletes are discovering the power of functional training and how it can change their entire outlook on life.
When you get in the habit of setting goals, you can find yourself neglecting other areas of your life to reach them. During the pursuit of your goal, it can also be tempting to cut corners in ways that may be unwise. Every year, 21% of adults are injured during sports or training. Many of these injuries could have been prevented. Keep reading to find out how.
- What is Functional Fitness?
- Functional Training Basics
- Build Your Best Functional Fitness Workout
What is Functional Fitness?
People at all levels of physical ability can benefit from cultivating a stronger foundation of mobility and strength. The central focus of functional fitness is form, so getting started can be deceptively easy.
When you are just getting started, or if your current form is lacking, maintaining good form is hard. This means you can get a lot of benefits from just a few minutes of practice. New habits are hard to form, so starting small with short, easy exercises is the perfect way to go. As you get into the habit of spending five, ten, or fifteen minutes practicing form, your exercises will get easier and easier to do. This will allow you to gradually expand your routine in ways that will transform and sculpt your body. Functional fitness is a way of life, so you don’t have to worry about making personal bests or stretching goals.
Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? It’s tempting to jump ahead like the hare and race to the finish line as fast as you can. When a race starts, the people who jump to an early lead are rarely out in front at the finish line. If you’re like me, sometimes you bite off more than you can chew and get discouraged. This is where the wisdom of the tortoise can help: Slow and steady wins the race.
When you build a solid foundation of functional fitness, your body will have more strength, flexibility, and endurance. When the rabbits go running by at top speed, you will smile and know you’ll overtake most of them in short order. The goal of functional fitness is to help you lead a healthier, happier life.
Functional Training Basics
Functional fitness is a form of multitasking that is easy and has nothing but an upside. It can even help strengthen your immune system. When you focus on functional fitness, you engage in more low-impact exercises that are less likely to cause injury. You build a foundation for more difficult exercises, which will also decrease your chances of injury and increase your performance! Practicing functional fitness also means you have more time to breathe. There is a lot of overlap between functional fitness and meditation, allowing you to improve your physical and mental health at the same time. Functional fitness allows you to work out with people who are way above or below your personal fitness level.
Most people have to multitask throughout the day. Mothers often have to do ten things at once! Research has shown that multitasking reduces productivity in almost all cases. Does that mean you shouldn’t multitask? I have good news: There are ways to multitask that can be quite effective.
The secret to multitasking is to find activities that do the multitasking for you. For example, almost everyone out there knows they need to exercise more, and most people are also behind on chores like vacuuming, cleaning out the garage, and yard work. You can combine chores and exercise if you approach them right. Hiking is another foundation of functional fitness you can combine with other activities. Take friends, family, or that special someone up into the mountains or along a beach. Turn it into a habit, and you’ll draw closer to nature and deepen your relationships while you develop your functional fitness.
Build Your Best Functional Fitness Workout
Functional strength training consists of exercises targeting the six basic body movement patterns of push, pull, core stability, squat, lunge, and bend. You use these movements every day, so functional bodybuilding leans into what you need. Because it focuses on movements you use every day, you don’t need much equipment. You can even do functional strength training with only bodyweight exercises.
Functional fitness exercises combine strength training and mobility training with movements inspired by common daily activities. The more you focus on fundamental motions, the more you understand your capabilities and limitations. This combination of strength and knowledge will help protect you from injury.
Some of my favorite functional training examples include:
The more you practice exercises like these, the stronger you will get and the easier you will perform your day-to-day tasks.
A functional bodybuilding program is an amazing way to multitask. Strength training makes you smarter, increases blood flow and oxygenation, boosts your mood, and it builds muscle. If functional strength training were a pill, everyone would take it!
I recommend you consult with your personal trainer or workout partner and see where you can upgrade your exercise program. Commit to adding more functional exercises that will improve your mobility and help you live a better day-to-day life. Start small and give it a try for thirty days. Then evaluate your progress and see if you’re ready to take your exercise program to the next level.