Functional Exercises: What Are They and Why Are They So Important?
Phrases like “functional fitness class” and “functional workout” have been popping up everywhere in recent years—you’ve likely seen these added to the classes offered by your local gym or seen friends posting about them on social media. Clearly, the subject is trending…but what is it all about?
We’ve got the answers you’re looking for in today’s blog where we’ll talk about exactly what functional exercises are (and what they aren’t) and explain why this type of exercise is so important.
What is Functional Exercise?
The answer lies in the name…function. Functional exercises aren’t just about increasing fitness (though they certainly do that). They’re about serving a purpose. A functional exercise is going to strengthen you in a way that helps you perform specific tasks outside of the gym, like getting up off the floor, lifting and carrying heavy objects, and reaching for items up on high shelves.
The focus of functional training includes:
- Strengthening you body in specific ways that help you perform better in your everyday life
- Using multiple muscle groups in a single exercise
- Using your body weight and free weights for resistance
There are plenty of exercises that are good for you but aren’t considered functional. Both bench press and leg extensions, for example, may have their place in a fitness routine, but they don’t strengthen your body in a way that will serve a purpose outside of the gym.
Benefits of Functional Exercise
Trains Your Body to Work Efficiently
When you teach your body to work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, you’re helping it work better. Functional exercise trains your body to work as a cohesive system instead of just training individual parts.
Improves Balance and Stability
As we go through our daily lives, we must trust our bodies to provide the stability and balance we need to accomplish tasks. Through functional exercise, clients use their own body weight to perform exercises that improve their balance and make them feel more stable.
Exercises that require you to shift your weight and shake up your equilibrium (think walking lunges or sumo squats with a one leg stand) can improve joint stability and increase core strength.
So much of your body’s strength comes from having a strong core (those muscles housed in the abdomen, backs, and hips). Most functional exercises work the core even when they are working other muscle groups simultaneously.
By building strong core muscles, you’ll improve your stability while reducing back pain and taking pressure of your joints.
Functional exercise makes fitness more purposeful and improves our quality of life by making everyday tasks easier and safer. And we just happen to offer an outstanding Functional Fitness class right here in the studio where we incorporate functional exercises with circuit training for a fast-paced session that keeps your heartrate up while using your bodyweight and a variety of props for resistance.
Functional exercise is something that can be beneficial to everyone, regardless of age or ability level. Stop by the studio and give this important exercise technique a try.