What Is Functional Fitness?


It feels great to be fit, to be able to deadlift 400 pounds, and do endless situps and pullups. But are there any real-life applications of all these gym exercises? Will they help you pick your kids up, lug around some furniture, run to catch a bus, or climb a tree? The thing is, it doesn’t always work that way.

Your gym is a predictable environment, the bench press is always set up the same, and it’s always in the same spot, you can choose exactly how much weight you want to lift and the way you perform your workout is probably already a routine for you.

The real world is different, unpredictable, and very dynamic. The angle won’t always be the same, you won’t always be able to maintain straight arms, and the ground can be uneven, unlike a treadmill. In other words, training in a routine-based environment does absolutely nothing for your adaptability. To get real functional fitness, you have to modify your workout. If you’re a runner, get into the gym and lift a bit. If all you do is lift, then go out for a hike or a run on some uneven terrain and at variable tempos.

The key is to try to escape your comfort zone and constantly push your limits in ever-changing situations. It might seem challenging at first because it is the opposite of routine, something you might have been doing for years now. However, you have to remember that learning a skill is also a skill. The more you challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and learn new types of workouts, the better you will become at doing them.

A good place to start is maybe a kayak or a rock climbing gym. You can also just hike as much as you can for a whole day, to see how much you can push your limits, or perform functional workouts using weights, only in a bit more unconventional way than what you’re used to. Here are a few exercises that are great if you’re just starting off:

  • Exercise 1: The T-Pushup
  • Exercise 2: Plank With Dumbbell Row
  • Exercise 3: Squat To Dumbbell Press
  • Exercise 4: Inverted Row
  • Exercise 5: Dumbbell Reverse Chop
  • Exercise 6: Pullup with Knees Raised

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