Functional Fitness

What Can Functional Fitness Do For You?

Functional fitness is a type of work out that concentrates specifically on training your body to cope with real-life situations using real-life body mechanics. This revolutionary technique takes fitness to a whole new level by combining multiple muscle groups and joint movements to work together rather than isolating them to function separately.

Working out on the machines is terrific; however, the machines don’t prepare you for everyday life. A patient, Laura came to me after a back injury and said, “I don’t understand, I went to the gym 3 times a week and felt much stronger, yet when I went on my trip and had to carry my suitcase by myself, I hurt my back. How could that be? That’s because exercising on a machine and performing functional exercise is quite different. Here’s why…

What is functional fitness


Tricep extensions performed with dumbbells on a bench is a functional fitness exercise. A seated tricep extension performed on a machine is not. Exercises performed on either a bench or without the use of machines integrates muscles of the back, shoulders, arms, and legs to stabilize your body making the exercise dynamic, meaning your body is in motion. When comparing this dynamic exercise to an occupational therapist bending over to transfer a patient, or a person putting away groceries, they are similar because both functional activities require the person to use a variety of muscles.

However, if you do a seated tricep extension on a machine that isolates the tricep muscle, guess what is doing the work? The machine does most of the work and that movement doesn’t mimic real-life activities. Because in real life, when you’re carrying suitcases, bending over to retrieve something, reaching into your closet, you don’t just use one muscle group to perform functional activities.

That’s why you can train at the gym for months and even years on the machine and one day you go to put groceries in the car and ouch – you strained your back!

Machine-based exercises also limit your range of motion and therefore don’t allow your body full range of movement that is required of you when doing day to day activities.

In this tough economy there is a multitude of reasons for you to incorporate functional fitness into your exercise routine:

Benefits Include:

  • No expensive equipment.
  • Decrease back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain
  • Decrease risk of injury o Enhance joint mobility
  • Keeps you doing all the things you love and need to do
  • Can be done by virtually anyone, regardless of fitness level
Functional Fitness

How Functional Fitness Benefits Seniors

Functional fitness is all about teaching your body to handle real-life activities. It is a way of exercising that helps your body be strong in those areas that the body needs to be strong in your everyday life. This type of fitness can benefit anyone but can benefit seniors perhaps more than others.

The Idea Of Functional Fitness For Seniors

Functional Fitness for Seniors

Functional fitness involves putting your body through the paces that are necessary for everyday life. As a senior, you can lift weights or use a weight lifting machine to strengthen certain muscles of your body to the exclusion of others and may find that you are strengthening certain muscles, which leaves a deficiency in others.

Without functional fitness, you can strengthen your arms in a biceps machine but still throw out your neck when reaching for something out of your reach or throw out your back while lifting your grandchild.

Seniors especially make the mistake of exercising their arms or legs in ways that may strengthen those muscles but avoid exercising their back, for example. This can lead to back trouble that could have been avoided if you had recognized that your arms and legs are intricately connected to your back and are useless without a strong core.

As a senior, you need to use all your muscles and joints in concert with one another and not just isolating out certain muscles to the exclusion of others.

Helping Your Muscles Work Together

Many seniors make the mistake of using weight machines or free weights while at the gym. They are isolating out certain muscle groups for strengthening, strengthening some muscles more than others. They may believe that to have a good biceps bulge is a sign of good health when their triceps muscles are not exercised at all. This means that the muscles cannot work together to do the everyday lifting and stretching that needs to be done as part of your regular day.

Everyday movement is not idealized. You don’t lift or move things by isolating out your muscle groups and in fact, it takes a strong back, strong legs, and strong-arm muscles to move a box or carry groceries. If you isolate out a muscle group to the exclusion of all others, you can set yourself up for injury to those muscles you have neglected.

How To Make Functional Exercise Work For You

Functional exercise is all about integration of muscle parts. It is about showing the muscles how to work together to accomplish a task rather than isolating muscle groups that may be exercised out of proportion to the rest of your muscles.

If you like rowing machines, for example, think about the posture you are in when you do that exercise. Your back is stiff and your arms are bent repeatedly with your legs doing very little. This strengthens some muscles and not others.

A better activity is to use a free weight standing up. First, you bend over and strengthen your back in picking up the weight. Then you strengthen your legs by holding the weight with your entire body. Finally, put the weight in various motions around your body so that your latissimus dorsi muscles are activated, along with your biceps and triceps muscles. Even the small muscles of your hands are strengthened by holding the weight.

All your muscles are working in concert by that simple exercise. If you repeat it on the other side of your body, the muscles of your back, sides, legs, and arms are exercised for the other side of your body and you haven’t missed any muscles in the process.

This type of exercise better mimics the regular activities you do every day and you will have fewer injuries because your muscles have learned to work in concert.

Balance And Control

Functional exercise is all about using your body to balance yourself while having control over your muscles. For seniors, it may mean skipping lifting weights completely and instead of working on things like squats and lunges that use all your muscles and help your balance. You don’t need bulging biceps to have good functional use of your body.

Can you stand on one foot for any amount of time without falling?

If you have questions about functional exercise, talk to a trainer about those exercises that will best mimic those things you are doing in everyday life. It is a different way to exercise that will keep you balanced, strong, and free of injury.

Functional Fitness

A Guide to Achieving Functional Fitness

Ever wondered why sometimes even the people who seem extremely healthy and physically fit backslide at performing an everyday task as small as lifting a toddler? The reason behind such anomalies is a lack of functional fitness.

Functional training deals with exercises and movements that help individuals cope with their daily life routines. Simply put, functional fitness exercises help you to perform some daily chores such as carrying groceries or walking up the staircase to the best of your ability without incurring an injury.

Benefits of functional fitness

As mentioned above, physical fitness and functional fitness cannot be used synonymously. Physical fitness does increase the chances of fitness but in no way guarantees it. This is why we sometimes see very well trained athletes succumbing to minor injuries after performing some day-to-day task.

The cross-co-ordination of the various joint and muscles in our daily routine requires us to undergo proper training in order to ensure that we are up to par in our everyday lives.

The emphasis of functional training is to develop the core muscles in order to help you optimize your daily productivity. These include the abdominal and lower back muscles. Whether you are a housewife or a busy professional with a sedentary lifestyle, some basic fitness exercises are all you need to make the most out of your day.

Where conventional weight training is about isolating the different muscles, functional training, on the other hand, is about the integration of various muscles to ensure their synchronization while performing a task that involves cross-muscular co-ordination.

Since our everyday routine involves the use of various joints and muscles, training exercises focus on improving multi-joint co-ordination. Keeping this in view, a functional fitness exercise might involve the elbows, spine, and shoulders altogether instead of just focusing on one joint or muscle.

When one embarks on the quest of fitness, he is simply expected to stand on his own feet in order to develop the capacity and control to carry his own body weight adequately. The subsequent stage involves moving on to some conventional weight training techniques.

Therefore, initial training exercises involve the one-legged squat followed by balancing oneself on tiptoes. Once mastery in these basic exercises is achieved, only then can a person move on to advanced exercises.

Remember, if you want to optimize your day’s productivity and stay fit, start your functional training right away! It will provide you long-term benefits that very few other methods offer.

Functional Fitness

Functional Fitness Training Helps You Lose Weight Fast

The true goal of fitness is to improve the health of individuals and the community. The fitness industry is just beginning to play a credible, integral role in health-care reform, including the way it serves the sedentary and/or aging population.

What is Functional Fitness?

Benefits of Functional Fitness

The term functional fitness is applied to a simple exercise plan that is designed to improve health, increase the ability to perform the activities of daily living, enhance the quality of life and prolong physical independence.

Functional fitness is everyday training for health, good posture and muscle balance. The purpose of functional fitness is to train muscles to perform their specific functions in daily activities at peak performance. A functional fitness plan includes cardiovascular and strength training to maintain a healthy body. A well designed functional fitness plan can complement the activities that a person already is doing in life, and does not require joining a workout facility.

Functional fitness helps people reach goals such as reduced blood pressure, increased range of body motion, and improved self-esteem. For sedentary individuals, achievable benefits from a functional fitness program include the ability to get up from a sofa, to carry suitcases on vacation, to climb stairs, and to reduce the pain experienced from life’s movements.

Most people shun exercise because of the amount of time they think it takes. You know it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes per day to live a healthy lifestyle.

Functional fitness programs do not waste time on exercises that are not needed. Besides some specific exercises performed to improve the specific needs, most of the exercise in a functional fitness program is moderate intensity physical activity accumulated during the day, such as walking instead of driving, physical activity instead of TV, and household tasks are done with a minimum of labor-saving devices.

A Simple Functional Fitness Routine

Let me give you a simple training routine. Everyone these days have stationary bikes. Use them in my method.

  • Fast paced cycling for 1 minute
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Fast paced cycling and so on.

Do this for at least 10 rounds of cycling. You’ll lose all your extra flab in this 12 minutes a day workout. This will build your cardiovascular, help you lose weight, be more active and energetic in day to day life. All you need is 12 minutes of your busy time.

Functional Fitness

What Is Functional Fitness Training?

More and more people are signing up to gyms these days, but worryingly a lot of those people seem to believe that the quality of the gym they join depends more on the definition of the TV screens in the treadmills than any definition their torso might see from training correctly. It seems that in the Fitness and Leisure industry, far too much emphasis is being placed on the leisure rather than the fitness… but fortunately, there is another option for those who truly want to improve, and more and more people are realizing this: enter Functional Fitness Training.

Now there are many Internet articles and threads that simply debate the definition of functional fitness training… this is not one of them. I understand that any training can be classed as functional depending on what you’re training for. For example, if you’re job description includes a need to have to largest biceps in the world then yes, 2 hours of bicep curls a day could be classed as functional training.

what is Functional Fitness

The goal here is not to argue the vagueness of the term, but to highlight the benefits, so for the purpose of this article functional fitness training will refer to an exercise or group of exercises that mimic, adapt and allow the improved performance of life’s daily tasks for the majority of people, with a reserve left for individual goals.

Here a goal could be, and usually is, to improve quality of life outside the gym; that is to have an increased capacity for recreation and play, whether this is a grandmother having fun with her grandchildren, or a teenager playing football.

Life’s daily tasks include movement in the 6 degrees of freedom, namely back/forward, up/down, left/right, roll, pitch, and yaw. Or more specifically to human movement, push/pull, jump/squat, step, twist, and bend. So functional training is training that seeks to improve as many of these movements as possible through one or a series of exercises. So consider functional fitness training defined… for this article at least!

So, if there exists functional fitness training, does this mean some training is un-functional? The answer to this is a definite yes… and unfortunately it’s all around us, and we’ll be writing an article on the topic of un-functional training shortly, so hold tight.

The many benefits of functional fitness training

Much of what goes on in gyms today is impossible to recreate outside of that environment. Functional fitness training allows you to develop strength in a controlled environment and then apply it to everyday life outside of that controlled environment.

Many favorable improvements gained from functional fitness training are down to the amount of ‘fitness bases’ covered in any one session. Indeed in one movement, you could be improving strength, coordination, balance, agility, accuracy, flexibility, endurance and stamina. There are very few activities that can produce an improvement in both neurological fitness (balance, coordination, agility, accuracy) and physical skills (strength, flexibility, endurance, stamina). This is achieved by using a large number of the body’s joints and muscles at once, training your body as one unit… (Your body was designed to be used like this!)

Training your muscles to work together this way means more focus is on training movements rather than isolating individual muscles. Anytime your body is moving rather than remaining stationery you rely on dynamic balance as opposed to static balance, and dynamic balance requires a great deal of core stability amongst other things. Functional fitness training will only seek to further improve core stability and strength, which has the knock-on effect of improving most aspects of your moving life, in particular, improved intra-abdominal pressure, posture, and injury prevention. So, functional fitness training boasts numerous physiological benefits, but there is more to it than this…

One of the most important aspects of functional fitness training is that it can be scaled to suit anybody’s level of ability. Intensity, duration, and resistance can be altered on all of the movements trained to match the individual levels of fitness and allow everyone, and anyone to get the most out of their training. On top of this, functional fitness training is constantly varied and is very often different every session, a trait that should be absolutely necessary for any fitness plan or schedule. The ability to not get bored with your training is a luxury that very few people training in conventional gyms have.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the return from your exercise investment that you get from functional fitness training. Your exercise investment includes the money you spend (on your gym membership, kit, nutrition, and travel) and the time/effort you put into your training. As alluded to earlier, for most people using conventional gyms the value is more in the luxuries and less in the fitness aspects, whereas, when it comes to functional fitness training, the return you get is the increase in your capacity to enjoy your recreations and play having reached your goals. In short, it gives you an increased work capacity overall fitness domains, which means in any given time period you can do more of whatever it is you want to do. Essentially, functional fitness training is real fitness training!