There is a massive trend within the fitness industry nowadays that focuses on performance and ability rather than looks. Many fitness professionals have come to call it functional fitness. The thing about functional fitness that captivates me the most, is the fact that chasing performance you always get results when it comes to looks and improved health. The vice versa hardly applies here.
It seems as though fitness coaches now revert to one simple philosophy- in order to look and feel like an athlete, you must train like an athlete. And therein lays the need for functional fitness.
So what is functional fitness?
Keeping away from definitions, I would say that functional fitness is a physical regimen comprised for the goal of improving every aspect of your physical capacity. Ok, that sounded like a definition a little bit. Anyway though…
Functional fitness, understood in more layman terms, means improving your strength, cardio endurance, balance, flexibility, agility and so on.
So let start with cardio capacity:
Improving your cardio-vascular capacity means improving the ability to breathe and pump blood even at higher levels of physical intensity. But let us translate this in English. Improving your cardio capacity means that you can run longer, do physical stunts and feats without losing your breath that early in the process.
And while there are different methods of improving one’s cardio capacity, the basic principle is this- try to ramp up the intensity of your training, whether that is lifting heavier weights with less rest between sets, or running faster or further.
Much can be discussed about strength, but I will try to phrase it in one simple sentence. Strength, physical strength, is the ability to resist obstacles and fight them with your body. Whether that is lifting heavy or fighting Earth’s gravity by using your own body weight, strength stands for the ability to perform some moves with much intensity in very short intervals of time i.e. lift a very heavy rock in an instance, not carry a lighter one for a mile.
Strength can be improved by doing just that- shortening the time frame in which you perform the feat, and increasing the intensity. Methods can vary, But I would suggest lifting weights, and doing resistance moves whether on bars, or by using your own body.
This one is a little bit more obvious, so I will try to be brief. Do stretches, do some yoga holds and try to hold them longer and go deeper. Once your flexibility improves, you will notice how things in everyday physical situations become dramatically easier to do. Flexibility, together with strength, is what we need most during our everyday challenges.
Once again, a very simple concept to grasp- balance stands for your ability to keep your posture. Balance comes from the core, so make sure to pay additional attention to exercises targeting your abdominal area. Also, try to do some yoga holds and try to balance yourself using one leg and then the other.
Speed, coordination, agility…
And many other aspects of fitness in fact… They all improve once you pay attention to the ones I previously mentioned. Speed and coordination usually go along, and agility stands for your ability to incorporate everything we already discussed during your movements.