Functional Fitness? What does that actually mean!?!?

What is Functional fitness?

To most of us, functional means that we want things to work better.  In terms of exercise related goals, we want to be stronger, faster, leaner, jump higher and run further.  Some just want to be able to get off the ground problem free, and if they are lucky enough, easily!

Unfortunately, “functional fitness” as an exercise trend has lost sight of most of that.  All too often nowadays functional fitness routines are nothing more than lazy trainers making a workout that doesn’t factor in the individual clients current abilities and or goals.

So what exactly is “functional”?  If something is going to be categorized as training for “function”, then it should do exactly that, improve function.  This can be done through many manners, but first and foremost must take into account the current abilities of an individual.  Usually this can be done through a proper pre-workout assessment such as the FMS(functional movement screen).  There are many other great assessment methods and it will vary from trainer to trainer how they go about assessing, but know that if someone is teaching you “functional” training, without assessing function, well that’s quite potentially like teaching calculus to a kindergartner, it might be a little advanced!

As for what would be included in a proper functional training routine, it’s relatively limitless.  An Olympic athlete functions on a higher physical level than the average office worker, so exercises for them might include things like plyometrics and sprint training.  That same training may be crippling (potentially literally) to the average office worker.  Exercises like deadbugs and birddogs might be barely a warm up to the Olympian but be the perfect challenge exercise to improve function in that office worker!  Let’s be clear, some office workers might be Olympians, and THIS IS WHY it is so important that before any exercise program is created an individual is properly assessed by a qualified specialist.

Once you have taken the time to be properly assessed and have a program created for you, you should regularly monitor how you feel after your routines to evaluate if what you are doing is good for you.  Post exercise you should NOT be in pain.  Discomfort from exercise occurs when you are breaking into new ranges of flexibility and when you are exercising incorrectly.  This means that if you are hurting and didn’t achieve new range that day, then as far as your muscle function and joint function is concerned you did something wrong!  In addition, progress should be occurring.  Reviewing your abilities on a 4-8wk basis is a fair way to judge if you are progressing.  If you are not, then the routine should be looked at as it is either incorrectly programmed or there is something else causing problems for you and doing the same thing is not likely going to fix that!

To sum up, if it’s functional training and it’s not improving function, IT’S NOT FUNCTIONAL TRAINING!


For a better understanding of what bad pain during exercise is, read the following!!!