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What Is Functional Fitness?

Some people workout to lose weight. Others train to enter bodybuilding contests. But functional fitness is different: it primes your muscles for everyday tasks. But what is functional fitness exactly? And how can you try it for yourself?

Fitness: functional for every day

As we mentioned, the aim of functional fitness is to train your muscles, so you can carry out all the activities you do in daily life. Things like playing with your toddler, carrying heavy shopping bags, or doing physical tasks at work. Functional fitness is often recommended for athletes, to build the muscle groups they need to perform at their best.
But it's for us normal folk, too. Functional fitness works to build your mobility, strength, and stability – so you’re not only in peak performance at the gym, but also when you’re out and about. After all, that’s the whole point of health and wellness right?
Interestingly, it’s said that functional fitness evolved out of rehabilitation. As practitioners chose physical exercises that mimic what their clients do at home or work, they were able to build strength, resolve injuries, and return to work or daily life as soon as possible.

What are functional fitness exercises?

When you do a functional fitness workout, you’ll notice it targets the whole body. A typical training session might include:
  • Planks
  • Crunches
  • Crab walks
  • Pull-ups
  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
What makes these movements functional? Well, think about deadlifts (bending to lift a heavy weight to hip height). It’s very similar to picking up and putting down things around the house or your workplace. Squats are also a functional fitness favourite, because we’re often getting up and down from our desk or sofa – and squats build the muscle groups needed to make this movement more efficient in everyday life.
You can also do movements like pushing, pulling, and carrying heavy things at home to build your strength and mobility. But to avoid injury, it’s best to do this under the guidance of a practitioner when you first start out.

Is functional fitness for me?

Functional fitness is for everyone! From people who are new to exercise, right through to elite athletes. It’s also often recommended for women who are pregnant or getting back into fitness after childbirth, as well as people who are recovering from an illness or injury. If that’s you, be sure to start your program under the guidance of a physiotherapist or personal trainer who knows how to adapt the movements to your body and limitations.

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