The reasons why people pursue fitness goals vary depending on what they want in exchange for their hard work and sweat investment, like weight loss, bulkier muscles, or preparing to complete a marathon. What if the reason for hitting the gym is simply to live life better? Eugenio Pallisco, a licensed fitness trainer, says that one of the best types of exercises to incorporate into a workout plan to improve daily living is functional fitness.
What is functional fitness?
Many humans fill their days with routine activities and common movements like walking, carrying groceries, picking things up from the ground, and so forth. Functional fitness consists of a series of exercises that help train the body’s muscles to execute daily activities better. Strengthening the body in preparation for ordinary tasks decreases the risk of injury, like throwing a back out, making every day easier, safer, and more efficient.
What are the benefits of incorporating functional fitness into an exercise plan?
Pallisco says that everyone, no matter the age, can benefit from adding functional fitness to their to-do’s at the gym. The biggest benefit of practicing functional exercises is to enhance the quality of life by gaining strength, balance, and flexibility to navigate the physical world and all obstacles in it more smoothly. Functional fitness also levels up one’s coordination and stability through its replication of real-world movements.
What kinds of exercises are classified as functional fitness?
There are numerous functional exercise moves to increase muscle strength for daily activities. Pallisco picks his top three favorites to share:
1. Farmer’s Walk
The basic move of the farmer’s walk strengthens one’s grip along with calves, hamstrings, shoulders, and quads. The exercise aims to challenge how long an individual can carry a bulky weighted object. This exercise mimics a real-life instance, such as carrying groceries. To start, each hand should be holding a heavy kettlebell or dumbbell. Shoulders should be stabilized by setting them down and back while the core is engaged and the chest and head are uplifted. Using fast and short steps, walk forward. Continue walking until you reach a time or distance goal.
2. Dumbbell Thruster
The core, shoulders, triceps, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings are all trained during the dumbbell thruster. This exercise will get the blood pumping as it is an explosive movement that transitions back and forth from a squat to an overhead press. Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand and placing them at your shoulder height. With feet shoulder-width apart, sit back into a deep squat, and then push up into a standing position while continuing to carry the momentum up into an overhead press as dumbbells are pushed straight into the air.
3. Dive Bomber Push-Up
Push-ups alone are already an excellent functional exercise to adapt to any fitness routine. To level up the effectiveness of a push-up, try a variation of the classic move, like the dive bomber push-up. A dive bomber push-up works the legs, back, shoulders, chest, arms, and core. The move could be described as a flowing mix of downward dog and upward-facing dog yoga poses with a plank and a push-up.
Start in a wide-leg plank position. Then, push your hips back and up into the air as high as possible while pressing your hands down into the floor. This part of the move is similar to the pose of a downward dog. Next, as if to smoothly transition from a downward dog into an upward-facing dog, the chest dips down and forward, moving between the hands as the arms start to bend. Continue to move the chest forward and past your hands. The chest then flows up towards the ceiling into an upward-facing dog position. Finish this move by reversing the forward movement backward to return to the wide-leg downward dog stance.
About Eugenio Pallisco
Eugenio Pallisco, a licensed trainer and fitness expert, operates in Dallas Texas. Having worked with motivational fitness mentors during high school, Eugene has spent significant time refining his training philosophy, which revolves around bettering others. Prior to launching his private training firm in the fitness industry, he gained further expertise by providing one-on-one training to gym-goers after starting as a group fitness instructor.