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Training Talk: What Is Functional Fitness?

by Jack Henderson

The world of fitness is full of technical jargon. From HIIT to CrossFit, from Calisthenics to Resistance training, it can be hard to know where to begin. Over the past few years, though, there’s been an increased emphasis on one training type, in particular, and that’s functional fitness. Functional fitness does away with the idea of spending hours in front of a mirror and performing dumbbell curls, and instead promotes exercises that mimic real-life movements.

In other words, it’s a training type that can actually benefit you in ways other than simply looking good! The team here at Elite Outdoor Fitness Academy, an outdoor boot camp based in Essex, features functional exercises at its workouts’ core. Here, we wanted to go in more detail as to why this training method benefits over other traditional alternatives.

Whilst you're here, we also wanted to let you know that if you click here, then you can get a free downloadable fitness guide as well as a 7-day free training pass with our academy!

What Is It?

First, though, let’s look in more detail at what this training type actually involves. With its origins in rehabilitation centres for people recovering from injuries and in the treatment of movement disorders, functional training involves exercising in order to enable people to carry out daily life activities more easily.

This could be everything from being able to more easily bend down to pick up something you’ve dropped, to being able to play and have fun with your kids more comfortably. It can include weight-bearing exercises, movements focused on balance and flexibility, as well as general bodyweight exercises.

Functional training tends to focus on exercise movements that engage multiple muscle groups at once. This, as opposed for example, to the bicep curl, let’s say, that focuses (unsurprisingly) solely on strengthening your bicep!


What Are Its Benefits?

There are a huge number of benefits to functional fitness training, here are just some of them:

  • Improved posture. Functional training is ideal for those who struggle with poor posture. We’ve become increasingly sedentary as a species with more of us sitting at desks for most of the day. This can lead to problems like rounded shoulders and tightened hip flexors. Regular functional training can help combat this!
  • Improved flexibility. Functional training, through its wide range of movements, can greatly help improve (or restore) your range of motion; in practise, for instance, this would mean being able to squat deeper!
  • Quicker recovery from injury. If you do find yourself getting injured (of which there’s less of a chance, anyway, when focusing on functional training) then the holistic approach of functional training better equips your body to get back on track more and recover more quickly.
  • It’s fun! The equipment you use in functional workouts (as we’ll see) - as well as the focus on routines which regularly mix things up - mean that functional workouts stay fresh and stay fun. If it’s a choice between slamming down a medicine ball on the floor in anger (accompanying warrior shouts are optional) and sitting on an exercise bike, watching the clock, well we know which one we’d choose…

Typical Functional Fitness Equipment

Any gym or fitness academy that puts their focus on functional training, such as our outdoor boot camp, will have a few pieces of staple equipment that you’re bound to find yourself using in your sessions. These include:

  • Kettlebells. A classic of the functional training scene, kettlebells – yep, you guessed it, named because of their shape – are a versatile type of equipment that can be used for a variety of movements, ranging from squats to swings, pulls to presses.
  • Ropes. Also known as battle ropes, these long stretches of rope are deceptively tiring to train with. Swinging them up and down might seem like child’s play, but doing it continuously and with proper form will build up a serious sweat!
  • Sleds. There’s something seriously fun about just pushing something heavy along the ground and gathering momentum as you do so. You’ll feel like you’re competing in a strongman event as you do so, but you can also use these handy bits of kit for pull-based exercises as well. If we’re feeling mean, we’ll even get our personal trainer to stand on it as you push, as well!
  • Medicine Balls. Sometimes the simplest equipment is the best. These weighted balls can be used in a thousand different ways, and are especially good in helping you train your core strength through moves like the ‘Russian Twist’.
  • You! A piece of equipment you’ll never forget to bring along to our outdoor boot camp – and absolutely free! You’ve probably seen countless advertisements online for all-singing, all-dancing bits of fitness equipment that promise to transform you in the space of a couple of minutes. The chances are, though, anything you’ve seen advertised? There’s probably a good chance there’s a perfectly serviceable bodyweight exercise you can do to get exactly the same results!

Contact Us

So, if you’d like to find out more about our outdoor boot camp, then get in touch! Contact Elite Outdoor Fitness Academy today on 01702 232 470 or by emailing us at info@elitefitnessacademy.co.uk. If you click here, then you can even get to trial our outdoor training sessions with a free 7-day pass, no catch! If you'd like to find out more about our session scheduling, then just click here.

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