Newsletter: How Functional Fitness Differs from Other Types of Exercise

How Functional Fitness Differs from Other Types of Exercise

There are many different forms of fitness and no shortage of exercises to implement into your workout routine. There are even different ways to structure your exercise routine, including functional fitness, bodybuilding, traditional strength training, and more. The way in which you exercise can be different from the person next to you, which is why you should understand the different types of exercise to see which one aligns with your goals. Functional fitness is one of the many important components of a physical therapy program that is tailored to help individuals effectively recover and get back to doing the things they love most.

Before beginning any type of exercise or stretching routine, you should consult with a qualified healthcare professional such as a licensed physical therapist who can provide a comprehensive evaluation and educate you on the proper ways to perform the exercises.

Learn more about functional fitness and see how it differs from other types of exercise.

What Is Functional Fitness

Functional fitness and functional training focus on helping prepare your body for many of the everyday activities you will perform on a daily basis. This includes all of the routine activities you might do which can include cleaning the house, getting in and out of bed, picking up groceries, and more.

Functional fitness focuses on helping you build foundational strength and flexibility with the goal of helping you improve your range of motion and alleviating pain to help you complete all of the everyday tasks you have throughout the day.

Functional fitness often involves low-impact exercises and stretches that are designed to mimic real-world activities you might perform. As an example, you might need to use the bathroom, get in and out of vehicles, or bend over to pick up a bag of groceries. To assist with all of those maneuvers, you can implement bodyweight squats which are designed to help you strengthen your quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, and lower back. A simple bodyweight squat is a great example of a compound movement that can help to build functional strength and make everyday activities a little bit easier.

In addition to using your bodyweight for many exercises and stretches in functional fitness training, you might also use training equipment and accessories to supplement your efforts. Some equipment you might use can include medicine balls, dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, and more.

Functional fitness focuses on compound movements that help to engage the whole body in the same way that you might engage multiple muscles for routine activities throughout the day. Functional fitness can help individuals improve their balance, increase their strength, improve their mobility, and reduce the likelihood of an injury.

What Is Traditional Strength Training?

While traditional strength training can include compound movements and exercises, it tends to focus on isolation exercises through heavy weights, machines, or equipment you might find at your local gym. Many types of machines at your local gym will focus on targeting one specific muscle or muscle group. A good example can include doing a tricep extension machine to strengthen those triceps to get bigger arms.

Traditional strength training can include compound movements, but most of the exercises will focus on isolation exercises that are designed to build strength or bulk up in one particular muscle or group at a time. Gym-goers will often dedicate an entire workout to specifically training one muscle or group of muscles at a time. For instance, you might hear people say it’s chest day, where they focus only on chest and arm exercises on that particular day. Traditional strength training can be great for those individuals who already have foundational strength and are looking to bulk up their existing muscle mass and want to optimize their workout for performance goals.

How Does Functional Fitness Differ from Traditional Strength Training?

Functional fitness focuses on building foundational strength to help you improve your ability to perform everyday activities to ensure that you can do what you love most while staying pain-free. Functional fitness does not focus on conventional strength-training exercises you might think of like the bench press or other large types of gym equipment that focus on isolation exercises or movements.

Traditional strength training focuses on helping to improve, “bulk up” your existing muscle mass, or to target specific muscles and/or groups individually. Traditional strength training, while it can include compound movements or exercises, often focuses on isolation exercises to target specific focus areas. Traditional strength training, while it can be beneficial for everyday activities, is not solely focused on improving your ability to complete routine activities. Instead, traditional strength training is focused on improving your performance and optimizing your body’s ability to push itself to the limit in your athletic endeavors.

Functional fitness is a great option for individuals who are looking for an accessible option to improve their ability to perform everyday activities, build foundational strength, alleviate pain, or recover from a recent surgery. Individuals who are looking to get that extra bit of performance should focus on traditional strength training.

Which Form of Exercise Is Right For You?

The best form of exercise largely depends on your personal goals. If you’re looking to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and develop foundational strength to improve your ability to perform everyday activities, then functional fitness might be the correct option for you. If you’ve already got a solid foundation, workout quite often, and are looking to optimize your training for performance, then traditional strength training might be the correct option for you.

Working out, getting active, and moving are all important elements of living a healthy lifestyle, supporting bone health, muscle tissue growth, and many other fantastic health benefits. By working with a licensed physical therapist or qualified healthcare professional, you’ll be able to determine which form of exercise is right for you based on your unique needs and goals.

Alleviate Aches and Pains with Physical Therapy

Functional fitness is one of the best ways to build foundational strength after a recent injury or surgery, alleviate common aches and pains due to muscular and flexibility deficiencies, and reduce the likelihood of future injuries. In addition, functional fitness can help you build the confidence, endurance, and strength to help you continue to perform routine activities with minimal disruption under the guidance of a licensed physical therapist.

Schedule an appointment to see how physical therapy and functional fitness can help you alleviate aches and pains and help you get back to doing the things you love most pain-free at a physical therapy clinic near you!

 

  1. “Functional Fitness: Is It Right for You? | Mayo Clinic Diet.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, https://diet.mayoclinic.org/us/blog/2021/functional-fitness-is-it-right-for-you/.
  2. “Exercise for Your Bone Health.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health.
  3. Functional Training vs. Traditional Strength Training – Uhhospitals.org. https://www.uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2017/02/functional-training-vs-traditional-strength-training.