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The Fitness Papers: Functional Fitness

We all know injuries can happen in the gym—but how many times have you heard someone say they injured their back carrying groceries or hurting their knee walking up the stairs? The idea behind functional training is that each exercise should be more natural and carry over into our everyday life.

Functional training got its beginnings in the physical rehabilitation field and was created by physical therapists to improve patient recovery after injury or disability. Specific exercises were developed to help patients regain function and return to activities of daily living.

Functional training has since been embraced by fitness professionals and morphed into predominantly weight-bearing exercises that simulate everyday movements and target core strength.

Functional fitness is about preparing you for life, rather than something specific like a big race or a lifting competition. Think anything from squatting down to pick something off of the floor, to turning and reaching for the oatmeal on a high shelf. This type of exercise mimics your everyday actions while engaging multiple muscle groups.

Besides making you more well-rounded as a person, functional fitness has a number of benefits for your health, everyday life, and athletic performance such as:

IMPROVES EVERYDAY LIFE: Compared to conventional training, the benefits of functional fitness tend to out-weigh everything else because it’s actually targeting the movements we are doing every day. This type of training is usually more fun than others since you are essentially training for your everyday life.

GREATER MUSCLE MEMORY: By performing regular functional fitness exercises, you are not just building muscle and core strength, but actually exercising the brain too – effectively boosting your brain’s memory.

INCREASED MOBILITY: Functional fitness helps to improve balance, coordination, flexibility, muscle strength, and agility. All of these components will leave you more mobile, which in turn helps with your day-to-day life.

IMPROVES BALANCE AND POSTURE: Training the muscles to manage weight properly will reduce stress on the body. In turn, posture will be improved.

REDUCED RISK OF INJURY: By mimicking the movements done in everyday life, the body is more likely to be able to withstand stressors. Functional fitness training encourages muscle and ligament strength, which are the areas that are highly susceptible to injury.

FUNCTIONAL TRAINING EXERCISES: The type of exercises you do will depend on your functional fitness goals, but here are some great exercise examples that can be included in your routine.

  • One Leg Dumbbell Row
  • Chin Up
  • Elevated Feet Push Up
  • Shoulder Press
  • Planks
  • Burpee to Broad Jump
  • Yoga Squat
  • Kettlebell Snatch
  • Medicine Ball Twist
  • Bodyweight Squat

Try doing several of the exercises noted above to work the important stabilizer muscles in your core/deep abdominal, shoulders, and hips. By adding just 2-3 days of functional strength exercises a week, you should see improvements in your ability to perform your everyday activities and maybe even fat loss!

No matter what activities you choose to do, DOT store carries all sorts of apparel, shoes and accessories to meet your needs. Check it out now!