If your goal is primarily looking flashy in the gym and showing off your muscular physique, then functional fitness is not for you. However, if your goal is to have a muscular physique but also maintain your ability to move the way your body is meant to, read on.
What is functional fitness?
Functional fitness is a fairly new term meaning performing moves that may or may not use gym equipment to help improve physical performance in your everyday life. For example, you may have an impressive bench press record, but what does that matter if you get overly winded climbing stairs or your shoulders have limited mobility to reach for a box on a high shelf?
The objective of functional fitness is to become strong to make moves such as moving heavy furniture or pushing a car out stuck in the mud. The good news is when you work on functional fitness, your gym workouts also improve.
The main difference between functional fitness and strength training is that strength training usually focuses on increasing the size and strength of muscles, such as biceps, by isolating that particular muscle. Functional fitness, however, focuses on improving bodily movements necessary for bending, twisting, and squatting associated with everyday tasks.
Benefits of functional fitness
There are numerous benefits to gain from focusing on functional fitness. These benefits include the following:
- Improved motor function
When you perform functional fitness moves, it trains your brain (the neuromuscular system) to work alongside with your muscles and nerves.
- Improves strength
It’s natural to think that to improve strength, you need to lift heavy weights. Yet, functional fitness is more of an all-encompassing strength program that reinforces strength throughout the body, such as improving leg or arm strength.
- Enhances conditioning and endurance
Functional fitness uses exercise equipment such as sandbags, kettlebells, or dumbbells to improve cardiovascular fitness and body conditioning. Possessing both strength and stamina is a dynamic duo on becoming well-conditioned. A good example of how functional fitness in your everyday life would be the ability to carry a heavy box of books for a long distance without much problem.
- Improves balance
Good balance becomes critical as you age. For example, simply walking along a poorly maintained sidewalk creates a possible fall hazard putting you at risk for breaking a bone. When you perform functional fitness moves, this trains your mind and muscles to make them aware of balancing your body, helping you remain stable.
- Increases speed and power
Functional fitness fills in the gaps by blending traditional strength training that builds muscle and strength for lifting heavy weights and how well you move outside the gym in everyday life.
Examples of functional fitness moves
There are many ways you can achieve excellent functional fitness. Here are some of the best ways to achieve this type of fitness to improve your overall fitness for daily living:
- Box jumps
- 100-meter sprint
- Resistant band workouts
To get started working on functional fitness, here’s a link to good examples of exercises to perform: https://blog.nasm.org/functional-training-compound-workouts
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.