Functional Fitness

In today’s world of health, fitness and exercise, one of the most trendy words is “functional.” What is functional exercise/fitness? In general it means doing activities in your workout that are considered transferable to regular life activities and situations. So, although anything can really fit into this realm, the more an exercise mimics an everyday activity the more functional it is usually considered. Squats in the gym mimic sitting down. Are squats then functional? You bet. Seated Lat Pulldown? No. Deadlifting a sandbag? Absolutely. Bench press? Probably not. Farmers Walk? Yes. Leg Extensions?No. You probably get the picture.

The trouble is that there is a lot of gray area here because a person’s body situation and goals really determine what is functional for them. Running is functional for runners but not for many others. Leg extensions are very functional for body builders but not for others. Olympic lifting variations are functional for most people but can be anything but functional for others. There is no universal or defined set of functional exercises. Functional fitness is very personal and individualized, just like diet. The key is knowing your body, knowing your goals and knowing your limits. With some practice it’s pretty easy to find what is functional for you.

If it helps you live your life better, it’s functional.

On that note, I came across two examples of functional fitness today. The first was a personal experience in landscaping. There is nothing more functional or primal/traditional for a human than doing some work around the house. Cutting branches, carrying brush, sweeping, moving rocks, rearranging things and cleaning up. This was functional at its core. Nothing I can do at the gym can make me better at yard work. Doing yard work makes me better at doing yard work. In the grand scheme, being able to do a bunch of lifting, hauling, moving and cleaning well is a lot more useful to my life than 45 minutes of sets and reps in the gym.

Second functional fitness bit of the day was this video of Spanish firefighters doing a training drill. Now this is functional:

And another version:

Or this:

Thanks for reading, have a great functionally fit day!


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