Definition from the Mayo Clinic:
Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time,functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.
In short, this means that functional training focuses on building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, rather than just lifting a certain amount of weight in a glorified posture created by a gym machine.
This means putting an emphasis on multi-joint and multi-exercise training—because triceps pullovers don’t often come in handy in everyday life.
The greatest thing about functional fitness? Since the training method emphasizes basic movements such as running, jumping, pushing, pulling, lifting and squatting, you don’t need fancy gym equipment to do it.
In fact, your own body weight can be incredibly effective, as can fun and challenging tools such as medicine balls, kettlebells, pull up bars and dip bars.
Get fitter, move better
Unless you’re training to compete in a bodybuilding competition, functional fitness is going to be your best bet for everyday life.
That’s because not only will you be able to do all the things you love… such as playing catch with your kids, running around with your dog and planting your garden, you’ll also be better prepared for all the mundane tasks of every day life, like getting out of bed, carrying groceries home from the store, or walking up flights of stairs.
Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by mirroring common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports.
So not only will you be building greater strength, improve your day-to-day performance, and prevent plateaus… you’ll also boost your quality of life.
Improve balance and coordination
Know all that stuff you read about core training and how important it is for your body?
That’s because a strong core is what leads to great balance—and balance can be the difference between falling and hurting yourself from a dip in the sidewalk or catching yourself before you fall.
Functional fitness exercises focus on building a strong core, training your body to react the correct way when something unpredictable happens, such as a tumble off the curb or a slip on a wet surface.
Because sometimes falls and accidents are unavoidable and functional fitness can help you prepare your body for the unexpected.
Burn more calories
If you’re trying to lose weight, I’ve got some good news for you: functional exercises burn more calories, too!
That’s because since functional exercises are almost always multi-joint exercises and require the use of multiple muscles at once, they take more work and energy to complete.
Plus, you won’t ever have to worry about “spot training” (which absolutely does not work), because you’ll be working your body in whole, complete movements the way it was meant to be used.
Give functional fitness a try
Ditch the biceps curls and seated leg extensions and try functional fitness out for yourself.
You’ll not only boost your body’s ability to function correctly during everyday life… you’ll also get stronger, fitter, and faster as a result.
And what could be better than that?