Learn the best practices to make your training more functional.
Whether you’re on a quest to improve your overall health, address specific fitness issues, or simply want to challenge yourself with new physical feats, functional fitness might be the missing piece in your training puzzle.
In this guide, we leaned on the expertise from Adam Sinicki to explore the essence of functional fitness, debunk common misconceptions, and provide practical insights on how to incorporate it into your routine.
See more below what Sinicki had to say about how to make your training more functional.
How to Make Your Training More Functional
Functional fitness stands as a beacon of practicality in the often convoluted world of fitness methodologies. Unlike secretive societies or fleeting fads, it’s a grounded and sustainable approach aimed at empowering individuals to navigate their daily lives with efficiency and resilience. The essence of functional fitness lies in its emphasis on movements that mirror real-life functions, addressing aspects that conventional strength training or bodybuilding might inadvertently neglect.
Critics may argue that every exercise has a purpose, and in a sense, they’re right. However, what sets functional fitness apart is its deliberate focus on movements that have tangible applications beyond the gym. It’s not merely about building muscle for the sake of aesthetics or strength numbers but about honing the body to excel in the diverse challenges that life presents.
Consider rotational strength, a fundamental but often overlooked aspect of functional fitness. In daily life, we frequently encounter situations that require the body to twist and turn—whether it’s grabbing an object from the backseat of a car or reaching for something on a high shelf. Functional fitness recognizes these scenarios and tailors training to enhance rotational strength, preparing individuals for the demands of their day-to-day activities.
Cardiovascular health, another cornerstone of functional fitness, is often sidelined in traditional strength training or bodybuilding programs. Yet, it is an integral component of overall well-being, ensuring the heart and lungs function optimally. By incorporating cardiovascular exercises, functional fitness addresses not only the aesthetic and strength aspects but also the body’s ability to sustain prolonged activities—a vital consideration for a healthy and active lifestyle.
Mobility and stability, two pillars of functional fitness, contribute to injury prevention and improved movement quality. Neglecting these aspects can lead to limitations in daily activities and, over time, increase the risk of injuries. Functional fitness recognizes the importance of maintaining a balance between strength, flexibility, and stability, creating a foundation that supports a broad spectrum of movements.
In essence, functional fitness is a holistic and forward-thinking approach. It encourages individuals to move beyond the confines of isolated exercises and embrace a comprehensive training philosophy. By addressing the often-overlooked components of fitness, functional training equips individuals not only to look good or lift heavy but to excel in the multifaceted challenges that life presents. It’s a journey toward a resilient, adaptable, and functionally capable body—a body that thrives not just in the gym but in the vibrant tapestry of everyday living.
To embark on your functional fitness journey, assess your current strengths and weaknesses. Are you struggling with cardio? Is your shoulder mobility limited? Identifying these areas allows you to tailor your training program to address specific deficits. Whether it’s working on rotational strength, improving grip strength, or enhancing single-leg stability, the key is to spread your energy across various aspects of fitness.
Functional training doesn’t mean abandoning your current regimen; it’s about adding elements that enhance your overall functionality. For example, if you’re a powerlifter or bodybuilder, consider incorporating rotational strength exercises or addressing neglected areas like shoulder mobility. Remember, the law of specificity dictates that you train for the movements you want to excel in.
A well-rounded functional fitness routine should cover major planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, and rotational) and movement patterns (horizontal push and pull, hip hinge, squat, etc.). Variety is key, incorporating tools like kettlebells and activities like trail running. By designing a program that spreads your energy across strength, mobility, endurance, and explosiveness, you’ll achieve a balanced and functional routine.
Beyond the gym, evaluate how your lifestyle impacts functional fitness. If you spend prolonged hours sitting, address posture and mobility issues. Incorporate more movement throughout your day, promoting cardiovascular fitness and overall health. Partnering with brands like Vivo Barefoot, who create functional footwear, can enhance your movement quality and complement your efforts.
Functional fitness isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution; it’s a personalized approach to unlocking your full physical potential. By identifying gaps in your training, incorporating functional elements, and considering lifestyle factors, you’ll embark on a journey that goes beyond aesthetics or lifting numbers. Embrace the versatility of functional fitness, and watch as it transforms your body into a well-rounded, resilient machine capable of handling life’s challenges.
Watch the video below from Adam Sinicki to fully understand how to make your training more functional.
Functional exercises are those that mimic real-life movements and engage multiple muscle groups, promoting overall strength, stability, and mobility. Here are some of the most functional exercises that target various aspects of functional fitness:
- Function: Mimics the motion of sitting and standing.
- Benefits: Strengthens the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Function: Involves lifting objects from the ground, emphasizing hip hinge movement.
- Benefits: Targets the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
- Function: Recreates the stepping movement used in walking or climbing stairs.
- Benefits: Develops single-leg strength, balance, and stability.
- Function: Similar to pushing oneself up from the ground.
- Benefits: Strengthens the chest, shoulders, triceps, and engages the core.
- Function: Mimics pulling the body upward, like climbing or lifting.
- Benefits: Targets the upper back, biceps, and improves grip strength.
- Function: Emulates maintaining a strong, stable position.
- Benefits: Engages the core, shoulders, and stabilizing muscles.
- Kettlebell Swings:
- Function: Involves a hip hinge and explosive movement.
- Benefits: Develops power, posterior chain strength, and cardiovascular endurance.
- Farmers Walk:
- Function: Similar to carrying heavy grocery bags or objects.
- Benefits: Strengthens grip, forearms, and engages the core and lower body.
- Medicine Ball Slams:
- Function: Emulates forcefully throwing an object downward.
- Benefits: Develops power, engages the core, and releases stress.
- Box Jumps:
- Function: Mimics jumping onto or over an obstacle.
- Benefits: Builds explosive power, leg strength, and improves coordination.
- Turkish Get-up:
- Function: Involves rising from a lying position to a standing one.
- Benefits: Enhances full-body stability, mobility, and coordination.
- Battle Ropes:
- Function: Simulates waves or whipping motions.
- Benefits: Improves cardiovascular fitness, grip strength, and shoulder stability.
- Single-Leg Deadlift:
- Function: Focuses on hip hinge and balance on one leg.
- Benefits: Develops single-leg strength, stability, and targets the posterior chain.
- Bear Crawl:
- Function: Recreates a crawling movement pattern.
- Benefits: Engages the core, shoulders, and improves coordination.
- Sandbag Carries:
- Function: Similar to carrying irregularly shaped objects.
- Benefits: Develops grip strength, stability, and engages multiple muscle groups.
Incorporating a variety of these functional exercises into a workout routine can contribute to a well-rounded approach to fitness, addressing different movement patterns and promoting overall functional strength and resilience.