Last week I started my introduction to this new series. I'm looking at Functional Fitness and asking "Is it as functional as it claims to be?" Just a quick recap of the definition of functional fitness - it is exercise that trains your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily use by simulating common movements you might do at home, work, or play. My question is, "Does the common idea of a Functional type workout really train your body in the way it works or operates. That being said, let's look at some common body weight exercises in functional fitness.
Now there are a ton of body weight exercises that are used as a part of functional fitness so by no means will this be an exhaustive list, simply because I don't know all the exercises. I will however, try to cover the most common exercises.
Squats and Jump squats: (Targeted Muscles- Quads, Calves, Hamstrings, and Glutes). So what is being taught is hip extension. Hip extension is typically used for standing, jumping, walking, and running. The thought process is, I've done 50 squats, and I'm done. I've functionally trained my targeted muscle group.
Remember functional has to do with operation when standing, walking, jumping, and running. Are your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves the only muscles used? The answer is a clear cut NO. Walking and running use the aforementioned muscles but you also use your core, lats, and adductor muscles. In other words part of the movement incorporates the posterior oblique sling (pos) and the anterior oblique sling (aos).
Similarly, when it comes to jumping, not only do you use the muscles in the legs, you use the muscles in your POS and AOS. You also incorporate the back functional line and the back arm lines for jumping. Just think when an athlete is testing how high his vertical jump is, he doesn't squat to jump. In reality, he hinges because biomechanically that is correct. Not only are jump squats not functional they teach incorrect jumping technique.
Push-up: (Targeted Muscles- Pecs, Deltoids, Triceps, and Abdomina)l. Clearly this must be functional right? You can even look at functional front line (FFL) its Pecs and Abdominals. However, still not functional. Yes, it works some muscles in the functional front line but not as intended or how it is supposed to operate. The functional front line (FFL) operates when doing things like throwing. A push up doesn't simulate a throwing motion, so therefore you run into the same issue with jump squats; teaching of a biomechanically useless motion.
I am not saying squats, jump squats, and push-ups are not good to do. If your goal is simply to strengthen a set of muscles then they absolutely accomplish those goals. Functional fitness, as I've said before, should or is supposed to be about more than regular strengthening of muscles, because that is the point of regular strength training. I am also not saying that these movements can't be made functional. By making a few tweaks to these movements, they can truly be made functional in respect to how your body operates. That's the goal of RAW, not to simply strengthen muscles but strengthen them in a way where they are working together how they were designed too. So until next time keep it RAW!