What is “Functional Fitness” anyway?
The term “Functional Fitness” is thrown around alot these days but what does it really mean and is it just another passing craze or something more?
Functional Fitness refers to fitness programs based on natural movements that occur in everyday life as opposed to movements only found in the gym. An example of this is that we sit and stand from chairs all day long and although it may not utilize the body’s full range of motion it mimics a basic squat. On the other hand, it would be difficult to find a movement in daily life that is the same as a leg extension, a movement often found in the gym. A leg extension is performed in a seated position and requires the participant to push against load using only the lower part of his or her leg. You don't see this movement pattern occurring naturally and it doesn’t require systematic engagement of the body, therefore, how functional is it really?
Functional Fitness programs are effective as they use the body as a system which has both specific and complementary effects. The squat, for example, will not only strengthen the lower body but also relies on the back and abdominals to stabilize the body throughout the entirety of the movement.
CrossFit defines functional movements as universal motor recruitment patterns that emanate from core to extremity, they are multi-joint and compound, yet irreducible. As a core strength and conditioning program, Crossfit uses functional movements together with cross training, skill practice, and high intensity cardiovascular sessions to maximize the body's response. In other words - getting the best results for the time spent.
Thus, upon further inspection “Functional Fitness” is not really a fad or craze, and is in fact not new at all. It is one of the oldest approaches to fitness which has recently remerged due to its effectiveness in producing results.
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