Functional Fitness and it's impact on sports performance

When the fitness plateau starts, it’s easy to fall off the wagon, losing motivation and struggling to enjoy working out. When this happens, it’s important to recognise it and find ways to spice up your fitness life. If your motivation for working out is for competitive fitness… finding new ways to ‘level up’ is great for confidence. In this blog, we are going to be talking about Functional Fitness and the role it plays in sports performance.

So what actually is functional fitness? 

Functional fitness has evolved over time in response to various fitness philosophies, training methodologies, and the changing understanding of human movement and performance. Strength and conditioning coaches, physical therapists, and fitness professionals started emphasising the importance of training movements that have practical applications in everyday life. This shift was partly in response to the limitations of traditional bodybuilding routines that often focused on isolated muscle groups. Its principles have evolved over time, drawing on a combination of traditional training methods, sports science, and a deeper understanding of bio mechanics.

Here are some of the key characteristics… 

  • Multi-Joint Movements: Functional fitness exercises often involve multiple joints and muscle groups working together. This contrasts with traditional isolation exercises that target a single muscle.

  • Real-Life Relevance: The movements in functional fitness are chosen for their practicality and relevance to everyday activities. This could include lifting, pushing, pulling, bending, and rotating—actions commonly performed in daily life.

  • Functional Core Training: Core strength is a fundamental focus. The core muscles play a crucial role in stabilising the spine and transferring force between the upper and lower body.

  • Balance and Stability: Functional fitness workouts frequently include exercises that challenge balance and stability. This can involve standing on one leg, using unstable surfaces, or incorporating dynamic movements that require coordination.

  • Varied and Versatile Workouts: Functional fitness programs often incorporate a variety of exercises and equipment, including free weights, resistance bands, stability balls, kettlebells, and body-weight exercises. This variety keeps workouts engaging and prevents the plateau effect.

  • Focus on Natural Movement Patterns: The emphasis is on natural, bio-mechanically efficient movements that the body is designed to perform. This includes activities like squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, and rotating.

  • Integration of Cardiovascular Fitness: Functional fitness programs often incorporate elements of cardiovascular training, recognising the importance of a strong heart and lungs for overall health and functional capacity.

So how does this relate to sports? We’ve rounded up some of the benefits of factoring in a Functional Training session into your sports regime…

  1. Power and explosiveness… Functional fitness emphasises compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups, helping to develop overall strength. This is vital in sports like Football and Rugby.

  2. Flexibility and range of motion… Flexibility can fall under the radar when strength training is the priority. Functional fitness is the best of both worlds, by improving agility you are less likely to injure yourself when playing sports.

  3. Mental toughness… The nature of functional fitness workouts can push your fitness limits. If you’re used to working at full capacity, you’ll be better equipped to face the competition.

  4. Cardio fitness… Building strength and cardio makes functional fitness a double whammy. Improving your overall endurance. Is beneficial for sports that require sustained effort over an extended period.

  5. Sport specific… Functional fitness can be tailored to include sport-specific movements and conditioning drills. This helps athletes replicate the demands of their sport during training, ensuring they are physically prepared for the specific challenges they will face during competition.

By incorporating functional fitness into your training regimen, you can enhance overall physical preparedness, reduce the risk of injuries, and optimise your performance on the field or court! Why not head to the Village Green for your next workout?! The slam balls are waiting for you!


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