Functional Fitness: WTF is it?
Posted on August 09 2018
In recent years, the terms “functional fitness” and “functional strength training” have gained enormous traction among fitness aficionados worldwide. However, the term is widely open to interpretation, and can be misleading. So WTF is Functional Fitness? And why do it?
Unfortunately, a lot of people have come to believe that functional fitness means a bold mimicry of explosive, high-intensity activities of competitive athletes. This approach and its disciplines tends to result in injury for the average fitness individual.
In reality, the term functional fitness implies the concept of training in a way that prepares you for functional (day to day) and necessary movements. In the most simple of definitions, functional fitness means training in a comprehensive way in order to improve functional strength and motor control. Functional fitness utilizes a “movement continuum” - i.e., smooth movements that cross the three cardinal planes of movement (sagittal, transverse, and frontal) and requires training to enhance the coordinated working relationship between your nervous and muscular systems.
For most functional programs, movements will be performed against resistance (body weight, dumbbells, resistance bands and bars) in order to manufacture the strength which allows for easier performance of daily activities. They also take into account tempo, types of contraction (concentric, eccentric, isometric), and moving in ways which mimic daily life (i.e. back squats, which help with sitting and rising from a seated position).
Functional strength training is best when performed in an environment that requires proprioception, or stability - on the part of the individual, rather than on traditional machines (which provide their own level of stability for the user and can become a crutch)
When included in a traditional strength training (or any other type of program) split, functional strength training helps to add the support of stabilizers and antagonists (muscles), and directly correlates to daily improvement in real-life scenarios.