In the fitness world, buzzwords abound, and 'functional' is frequently thrown into the mix. But what does functional fitness mean, and how does it measure against the innovative Functional Patterns (FP) approach? The term 'functional' is highly subjective and can be interpreted differently depending on context and individual perspective. This article aims to unpack these different interpretations and provide a clearer understanding. We will also delve into what exercises are commonly classified as 'functional' and discuss why simply performing squats, lunges, presses, and bear walks may not fully meet our functional needs or address the core movement deficiencies.
Decoding Functional Fitness
Functional fitness is a workout strategy designed to replicate real-life movements and actions. Does functional fitness build muscle? It involves several muscle groups, promoting muscle growth and enhanced functionality.
However, it's crucial to note that the concept of 'functional' is subjective within the fitness sphere. What's “functional” for a professional athlete can differ substantially from what's functional for an office worker or a senior citizen. This fluid interpretation makes functional fitness workouts flexible yet often misunderstood and often misses the mark in getting people to perform their daily tasks easily.
Functional Fitness: A Comparative Perspective
Functional fitness, though beneficial, differs significantly from High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or calisthenics. While HIIT focuses on cardiovascular health and caloric burn, calisthenics focuses on training the body in a bodyweight fashion. The concern is that “Functional” can be thrown around subjectively when describing movement. Niche markets and deliberate marketing use “functional” descriptively for actions not traditional lifting or bodybuilding but do not account for how the body was intended to move. As mentioned previously, In the fitness world, buzzwords abound, and 'functional' is frequently thrown into the mix. But what does functional fitness mean, and how does it measure against the innovative Functional Patterns (FP) approach? When the fitness industry uses “functional” subjectively, this could be dangerous to use in what that specific exercise might mean to that given modality.
Examples of this could be:
- A deadlift in the bodybuilding community could mention, “When done correctly, the deadlift is ‘functional’ for back strength.
- HIIT, for example: “It is ‘functional’ to perform HIIT training every 3 to 4 times weekly to maintain good caloric burning.
The problem with this lies in the fact that the term ‘functional’ itself can be subjected to an interpretation for each modality. Granted, the word is not the problem here. It is how it is used within the context of each community or specific exercise. To be ‘functional’ could mean anything, but we believe it is to move the way we evolved within the ramifications of Functional Patterns. By the BIG 4 (Walking, Running, Throwing, and Standing), if we get these right, then the framework of ‘functional’ can be built. One might want to ask what is ‘functional,’ and who truly moves functionally? We know the term itself by looking at our surroundings and understanding nature.
Unlike the broad and often nebulous concept of 'functional' in functional fitness, Functional Patterns (FP) stand out with a more definitive and structured understanding of 'functional.' FP views the human body as an interconnected system, focusing on enhancing movement patterns that echo human evolution and daily functionality.
A key principle in FP is the concept of ephemeralization - doing more with less. This is applied through a lens of movement efficiency, where the goal isn't just to perform an action but to do so with the least amount of waste possible. In FP, waste can be anything from unnecessary energy expenditure to excessive strain on non-target muscles.
To illustrate, consider the common task of lifting a heavy box from the floor. A traditional functional fitness workout might teach you to perform this action using a squat or a deadlift. However, FP would encourage you to evaluate and optimize this movement to use the least energy and avoid unnecessary strain.
For example, FP might have you engage more of your posterior chain (the muscles running down the back of your body), promoting a more natural and efficient movement. This could mean activating your hamstrings and glutes more than you would in a traditional squat, creating a movement pattern that's both safer and more energy-efficient.
This is just one instance of how FP goes beyond the traditional definition of 'functional.' FP isn't about mimicking real-world movements - it's about refining them. It's a commitment to a comprehensive understanding of human movement and the promotion of a body that moves effectively and efficiently.
Conclusion: Embracing the FP Interpretation of Functional
Both functional fitness and Functional Patterns aim to improve everyday movements. However, FP further restores your body's fundamental way of moving, addressing imbalances and inefficiencies at the core.
By choosing FP, you select a systematic and structured interpretation of 'functional.' It’s an investment in an efficient body aligned with natural human design. Explore FP's transformational impact through our 10-week course or engage with an FP practitioner for personalized training. Functional Patterns — moving beyond the traditional interpretation of 'functional' fitness.