Where do we draw the line when it comes to functional fitness?

Functional fitness has become an exercise phenomenon, but has it become a bastardized term?

Over the past month I have started going to the local globo gym twice a week to get my heavy lifts in.

Over my first month I have seen some pretty interesting exercises taking place.

Just today I saw a person doing jumping rotational lunges with a row, sit up hold bench press, ridiculous BOSU ball exercises, jumping jack presses, and shoulder raise to press variations.

On one hand I am happy to see people getting off the machines and moving their bodies in different ways.

On the other hand it is alarming to see some of the things people are doing in the gym in the name of functional fitness.

Functional fitness has become an industry buzz words that makes training sound really cool and gives an excuse to include an exercise in workout, or dare I say program.

The appeal of functional movements is the fact that because you are moving more joints and involving more muscles you are burning more calories, building strength all through out the body in short time efficient workout.

Sounds great right?

Problem is there is no consensus on a true definition, allowing for everything and anything to be considered “functional”.

Some would argue that a functional movement is anything that mimics things that you face in your everyday life.

Others define functional movements as multi plane, multi joint movements.

I don’t disagree with any of these definitions, the problem is where do we draw the line in order to say that this constitutes as functional training and what doesn’t?

I mean does something like this constitute as functional?

functional fitness.jpg

It most certainly is an impressive feat of balance, coordination and strength.  But when would you see this in real life?

I mean if I rubbed my belly and patted my head would that be a functional exercise? It uses multiple joints and I am moving in two different planes of motion.

At some point the ridiculousness has to stop, and exercises have to go back to having a purpose in your program.  Not just be in your training because it is “functional.”

We also need to think about keeping people safe.

I know people want want to perform the “cool” movements that provide fast results and leave them feeling “worked out,”  But what happens is that the movements get bastardized because their is so much going on in some exercises and people don’t know basic movement.

You have to earn the right to start doing “functional movements” by first mastering the basics.

Squats, push ups, trx rows, dead lifts, and carries are all basic movements, which are highly effective and also happen to be functional (by anyone’s definition).  Problem is they just aren’t all that sexy.

The reality is the unsexy stuff is the most effective to building strength, losing weight and helping you move and feel better.

As you get better that is when you have earned the right to progress and go onto harder movements that align with reaching your goals and will also keep you safe.

If you are able to accomplish that you will be able to draw your own line when it comes to functional fitness and decide what is worthwhile and what is just bull.

Be part of the conversation.  Weigh in and leave a comment. We would love to hear your thoughts on functional training.