Functional Fitness FAQs

Why do we all need functional fitness? 

Functional fitness prepares your body for the movements and activities that it must perform daily, such as switching positions (from sitting or lying to standing, for example), walking, lifting, pushing, pulling, rotating, and climbing. Not all types of exercise build functional fitness. After all, it is not uncommon for a gym rat to find that they can’t mow the lawn or move a piece of furniture without injury and pain.

What is the purpose? 

To lift a heavy object from the floor, you need to simultaneously engage your core, shoulders, legs, and glutes. These types of movements, known as compound exercises, use more than one muscle group at the same time. Doing sit-ups and bench presses might not prepare your body for this type of coordinated movement, but deadlifts and squats will. Ask yourself, how often do you find yourself lying on a bench and lifting a heavy weight directly above your chest? Probably never, unless maybe you’re an auto mechanic. How often do you find yourself squatting? Every time you go to the bathroom or sit down. 

Functional fitness considers many components of physical wellbeing simultaneously, including:

  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Power
  • Range of motion
  • Mobility
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility

How does functional fitness differ from other exercise programs? 

Besides using multiple muscle groups, functional fitness demands that you move in different planes at the same time. For example, you might move forward and backward or rotate from side to side during your workout. You will also use free weights or kettlebells, rather than machines, to more closely resemble the movements that you’re called on to carry out during normal daily activities. But before you use any equipment, including resistance bands or weights, you’ll learn to perform the movements with just your body weight. However, functional fitness isn’t about grunting and sweating as you swing weights around. For instance, activities such as tai chi and yoga integrate many different muscle groups and can help you to achieve your functional fitness goals. 

By repetitively practicing these movements, you’ll form a solid mind-muscle connection that will eventually allow you to automatically call upon what you’ve learned whenever you need to perform a coordinated move. Because you can see your progress on a daily basis, you may be more likely to stick with a functional fitness program compared to other exercise regimens.

One significant upside of functional fitness is that it can be adapted for your age, any injury or disability, existing health conditions, and your personal goals. As you progress, you may increase the number of repetitions, amount of weight, and speed. You might even modify the plane that you’re moving in. The one thing that you will never do is sacrifice form for speed or to increase the number of calories you’re burning. Functional fitness isn’t about calories. It’s about aging gracefully, improving fitness and mobility, and feeling good every day.

Functional Fitness Resources for Beginners

Evolve Functional Fitness Workouts. Complete 20-minute total body basic workout routine – Rebecca Kennedy.

Healthline. How to maintain your functional strength while sheltering in place.

NASM. Functional training: Compound workouts for functional strength.

Pahla B. 25-minute FUNCTIONAL fitness bodyweight strength and mobility workout for women.

Sunny Health and Fitness. Ask a trainer: What is functional fitness?

Sunny Health and Fitness. 15-minute full body functional fitness workout for a stronger core.

Vigeo. Functional strength training for beginners! Quick and simple; one dumbbell only!

Women’s Health. WH’s 4-week functional fitness plan will get you fitter and stronger for life.