Let’s begin with a question. What is fitness to you?
Chances are the way you answered that question will dictate which type of training is ideal for you. This article is not meant to tell you what to do or how to train. It’s merely meant to alter your perception of the word “fitness”.
In simple terms, fitness means to be fit, to be healthy, to be able to live your life. Therefore, it makes sense to train in a way that will carry over to your daily activities and reinforce your current lifestyle. And that’s exactly the focus of functional fitness. On top of that, whether your training goals include building muscle and strength, losing weight and becoming lean or even training for a sport, functional fitness is still the way to go and here is why.
Functional fitness fuses aerobic and anaerobic training and is designed to train your body as a unit instead of splitting it into isolated body parts. The truth of the matter is that your body is never required to perform single-joint movements and while a barbell bicep curl might be a great way to isolate and grow your biceps, it actually supports a rather unnatural movement pattern that can lead to imbalances and injuries down the road. On the other hand, functional training utilizes multi-joint movements and exercises to challenge your physical and mental state, improve the quality of your life and still contribute towards your aesthetic goals such as building muscle and getting lean.
Benefits Of Functional Training
Balance & Coordination
No, Bosu Ball Squats do not constitute a functional training exercise. In reality, human beings do not move or stand on unstable surfaces very often, if at all. Bending down to pick up an object, standing on your toes to reach for something overhead, running up a flight of stairs, getting out of your car, and even gardening, all rely on stability — and they take place on solid ground. Functional training mainly challenges your balance on a stable environment with exercises like single leg squats, lunges, jumping lunges, step-ups, lateral movements, posterior movements, agility drills, and plyometrics.
Strength, Power & Endurance
Training on stable surfaces will enable you to handle heavier weights and increase your overall intensity while working the upper and lower body synergistically. Exercises like the Squat, the Deadlift and the Overhead Press will challenge your entire body, build strength and size and create results faster.
Power goes hand in hand with strength and it’s all about moving weights in a quick and explosive manner. While you can train for power with any strength compound movement, there are certain exercises that are built to be explosive by nature such as the Clean & Jerk, Plyo Push-Ups, Ball Slams and Throws, Jumping Squats and even Landmine Twists that will fire up that core at the same time.
By training your body as a whole and blending strength and power into one workout, you will also be increasing your endurance and cardiovascular conditioning because your heart has to shuttle blood between the upper and lower body.
Aesthetics & Time Efficiency
Functional training will help you build a more natural, good-looking body, rather than worrying if your left bicep is smaller than the right one. Training for strength, power and endurance will not only increase your overall size but you will also be able to burn a lot of calories and build a toned, lean body.
Plus, utilizing your upper and lower body in the same workout leads to more efficient, shorter workouts and quicker results.
Mobility & Injury Prevention
The main problem with non-functional ways of training is the gradual decrease in mobility and increase in injuries that we observe. Isolating body parts, training within unnatural or incomplete ranges of motion and not focusing on core strength and control, almost always lead to stiffness, tightness and chronic or acute injuries in the gym or even in everyday life. Deadlifting 500lbs and yet injuring the lower back while bending over to grab the keys is a rather common phenomenon and it often stems from a lack of functional training.
Functional fitness however, will not only increase your mobility and flexibility but also support and fix your posture as well as prevent and even treat chronic injuries.
Practical Sports Interval Training – The Ultimate Cardio Workout
Regardless of what your training goals might be, cardio should always be a part of your program to ensure you are staying healthy and lean year round.
Interval circuit training is undoubtedly the best type of cardio there is and it’s nothing more than alternating between periods of high intensity and periods of moderate/low intensity, utilizing multiple compound exercises in a circuit. Although this is great for burning as many calories as possible, building endurance and conditioning, Gronk Fitness has come up with a rather interesting spin that takes interval training to the next level and it’s called Practical Sports Interval Training or PSIT for short. Practical Sports Intervals are inspired from the latest NFL functional training practices and they’re built with the same principles that helped Rob Gronkowski and his brothers reach professional level performance.
Practical Sports Intervals are ideal for people of all fitness levels looking to augment their performance in their sport or in day-to-day life and at the same time they’re far more likely to stick with this type of cardio and not give up on their goals, due to its diversity and fun factor.
The intervals relate to the performance during a play and then the rest after, so they will have you alternate between quicks bursts of power and short breaks in order to simulate game conditions and take your body to the next level.
The way I work out has changed so much over the past five years. Now, I combine circuits of heavy weight training and lower impact exercises for great results that are easier on my body. - Rob Gronkowski
If you are interested in finding a Sports Interval Training class near your area, check out the classes here, sign up and get Gronk’d!
Functional Training – The Present & Future of Fitness
If the last 5 years have taught us anything, it’s that functional training is the present and future of fitness. Nowadays people lead busy lives and when they invest time in their training they demand nothing short of great results in return.
So, if fitness means more to you than merely looking good and you want to also build your strength and endurance, feel stronger and better, improve the quality of your life and prevent injuries along the way, consider taking things up a notch and start your functional training journey now!