F words can be rude, dirty, and disrespectful, but not the F word I am thinking about. This word is FUNCTIONAL. In my previous post, Adding another F word to your vocabulary, I introduced the concept of functional fitness. In this post, let's take a deeper dive into functional fitness and some things to consider if you want to incorporate it into your workouts.
To recap, functional fitness is performing exercises and practicing movements that will help you perform better in your daily life, outside of your workouts. For exercises to transfer into other movements, it needs to be similar to the actual movement. It's also important to note that you need to train not only the movement but the muscles involved in the movement you're performing.
"Girl, what?" 🤷🏾♀️
Okay, I got you, here's an example.
When I started to get injured due to running, I learned the value of focusing on unilateral exercises for my lower body, like a lunge. For those of you who are runners, you've probably picked up that running is like doing mini lunges repeatedly. Incorporating lunges into my workouts helped strengthen my quadriceps and glutes - muscles involved in running.
If you're considering adding more functionality to your workouts consider:
Moving away from using machines and doing more free weights. Machines offer a controlled environment that helps you stabilize and isolate a muscle. But often when we are doing movements like running, walking, lifting, and pulling, we are not in a controlled environment. Therefore, it's beneficial to teach our bodies to stabilize and isolate, which free weight exercises can facilitate.
Doing more compound exercises vs isolating movements or exercises. An example of a compound exercise is doing this sequence: squat ➡️ bicep curl ➡️ military press. Performing just a bicep curl (isolating exercise) is fine but you will get more bang for your buck doing compound movements.
Also consider performing each exercise with full range of motion and training in multiple planes of motion (sagittal, frontal and transverse).
The term functional fitness has been categorized as another fitness buzzword. Perhaps it is; however, it has a place as a core element in your workouts. Functional fitness is easy to incorporate, can be efficient and help you feel strong and injury-free in your daily life.
You already may be doing functional fitness activities. If you're not, I hope this post makes you want to add this F word (functional) into your workout vocabulary.
P.S. If you're looking for workout ideas and motivation, sign-up to receive my free one-month activity calendar.
Bryant, C. 2011. What is functional strength training? Retrieved from: https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/1452/what-is-functional-strength-training/
Thieme, T. 2021. Functional training can make you stronger for everyday life. Retrieved from: https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a37850911/functional-training/