The Best Functional Fitness Exercises

Functional Fitness Exercise with Jump Squats

Functional Fitness Exercise with Jump Squats

At West End Athletic Club, we encourage fitness in every aspect of life. From doing a circuit at the gym to walking to work, any exercise is good exercise and can make a difference in your physical health. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn about the importance of training your body to handle the strain of everyday tasks through a process called functional fitness. 

What Is Functional Fitness

Functional fitness, or functional training, is a combination of exercises which are done with the goal of working your muscles to prepare for everyday labour. Activities such as lifting heavy crates or cooking, or any other action we take in a day all require our muscles to be prepared to work together simultaneously. Without proper maintenance, our ability to sustain a dynamic lifestyle with little strain becomes challenging. 

Therefore, the typical functional training session requires a wide range of movements to be incorporated to account for each part of the body that supports daily functioning. This requires the targeting of specific muscle groups, such as those in your legs and arms, to improve operational issues before they arise or worsen.

The Effects of Functional Fitness

The effects of functional fitness can go beyond just a decrease in how strenuous diurnal activities become. In fact, it has been shown that engaging in these types of exercises will increase caloric burn and build lean muscle, which can act as a preventative measure against type 2 diabetes. As well, by becoming more active in your everyday life, you are building up defences against potentially fatal heart diseases.   

Additionally, besides building strength and preventing illness, functional training greatly improves coordination, bodily awareness, and balance. Each of these elements works together to ensure safety from unnecessary injury. Functional training further aids in stress reduction and improves personal mentality through optimism and determination.  

Functional Fitness Activities 

There are a variety of functional fitness activities that can easily be incorporated into your daily lifestyle and current gym routine. Some can even be done from the comfort of your own home!

Pull-Up

The pull-up is an excellent way to work your upper and middle back, biceps, and lats. Functional fitness helps the body to prepare for heavy lifting and is essential for our everyday behaviours. An individual with the goal of power should recognize the importance of upper body strength and emphasize it in their routine. 

To do a pull-up, ensure you have a sturdy bar overhead that will hold your weight and grip it firmly. Then, using your arms, start to pull your body upwards until your chin is over the bar. This can be repeated until you feel satisfied. 

Squats 

Squats are a great method to begin exercising your quads, glutes, abdominals, and hamstrings using your own body weight. This is an easily incorporated exercise move, as it can be done throughout the day at home or even subtly integrated during errands.

Functional Fitness Group doing squats at West End AC

Exercise your quads, glutes, abdominal muscles and hamstrings with Squats

To do a squat, start by standing with your legs spread shoulder width apart, as this ensures proper posture and efficient movement. Proceed to bend your knees in line with the toes of your feet and lower your butt towards the ground, stopping when you are horizontal with your knees. You can then slowly rise back up again and repeat.  

Sled Push/Pull

When done properly, this activity should activate your glutes, calves, middle back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and hamstrings. Using this variety of muscles makes for an effective functional fitness exercise.

A TANK™ M4 push sled at West End AC

Using the Push Sled for resistance training works a variety of muscles

West End AC uses the TANK™ M4 push sled on wheels for resistance. The faster you push, the more resistance, which makes it quick and easy to adjust your exercise without stopping to add or remove weights. The resistance levels can be set at each end, allowing one resistance on the push and a different resistance on the pull.

Jump Squats

The jump squat, similar to the regular squat, works the muscles of the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and abdominals. And adding a jumping element also affects your calves and shoulders. A jumping squat is the perfect combination of bodyweight exercise, resistance training, and a plyometric element.  

To do a jump squat, prepare yourself in the same way as you would a regular squat, but bent slightly lower to the ground. When you rise back up, use the momentum to send you into a straight-leg jump.

A TANK™ M4 push sled at West End AC

Using the Push Sled for resistance training works a variety of muscles

Dumbbell Thruster 

A dumbbell thruster combines squatting elements with additional weight and arm strength. If done correctly, this exercise should target the quads, shoulders, core, triceps, and glutes. Dumbbell thrusters create engagement for every section of the body and should not be overlooked in your functional fitness routine. 

Dumbbell rack at West End Athletic Club in Toronto

Free weights are a great tool in Functional Fitness Activities

Miguel Valdez - NASM  Certified Personal Trainer

Miguel Valdez – NASM Certified Personal Trainer

To do a dumbbell thruster, follow the same steps as a squat, except with the utilization of two free weights for each hand. When ascending from your squatted position, begin to move the weights above your head, then directly over it once you have straightened your knees and stood at full height. Repeat as necessary. 

Pushups

Pushups are a classic functional fitness activity. A pushup will mainly target the muscles in your arms, such as the pectorals, triceps, and anterior deltoids, but it can also improve core strength. It is one of the best bodyweight exercises for anyone looking to get into functional training. 

To do a pushup, start by getting in a plank position and placing your hands on the floor at shoulder width. You can then raise and lower your body using the strength from your arms alone.

Miguel Valdez – NASM Certified Personal Trainer

To learn more about structured exercises and gym-based fitness, visit our website. You can also set up a private training session with our trainer Miguel Valdez