Functional Fitness

What a wishy washy, sales and marketing buzzword.

Functional Fitness and Functional Training.

Yet so many people fall for it so readily.
What does it mean?

The common answer is that it is training and fitness that crosses over into the real world.

I can accept that, as a martial artist, I’m well versed in functional training. My training may have been varied, but it was always functional.

Allow me to elaborate.

If you are training to be a better martial artists you will have to do supplementary training to enhance your speed, stamina, strength and flexibility. All your training will be done with this in mind, therefore, the function of your training will be to enhance your martial arts.

What do martial artists usually do?
Press ups, pull ups, bodyweight squats, crunches, running both sprints and long duration, stretching both statically and dynamically. All functional, all with a specific function in mind. I took up running to improve my stamina for Karate. I took up weights to improve my strength for Karate.

Many in the “functional fitness” industry will argue black and blue that long distance running isn’t functional. They will give you a whole list of reasons. But lets go back to 2004.
I spent most of 2004 running, I’d spend hours at it. some days I’d head up the mountains and spend 5 hours running, other days, I’d plan a 15 mile route. How is this functional you may ask?
I was training to run the 2004 Dublin Marathon. Therefore my training was functional.

Back in my youth I ran and cycled most days. It was functional because i never had a car, the bike was my transport. I’d often perform long distance rides, not as training but as transport. The byproduct, I had the legs and lungs of an endurance athlete, in the Karate studio this meant I had the wind to go longer than most. That is until we hit our mid teens and all of a sudden strength started to make a real difference.

Answer, i started to lift weights.
From time to time I could only train in the hotel gym (where i worked) using machines. The “functional fitness” group gasp in shock, machines!

Now I’m the first to admit, machines aren’t great and I’d rather use free weights any day of the week, but when needs must they do provide the means to train. My function was to increase my strength. I used machines and my strength increased, it was proven on the karate floor.

What’s my point?

I see people doing mad things in the gym, and I read even stranger stuff on youtube and in articles, all in the name of functional fitness. But does it really have the “functional” aspect people think it does?
Tyre flipping and sledgehammers are great, hell, i love my kettlebells, but at the end of the day they are only tools and toys.
Functional training is simply this:

Training to serve a function.

And if that function is to just look good in on the beach, do your crunches and your bicep curls, they’ll serve the function.
If your function is endurance, go out and run for mile after mile.
If your function is strength, lift heavy.
I your function is to be an athlete, train the areas that your weak, be it strength/stamina etc.

There is not one mould for all, the functional fitness road as it is marketed isn’t always right. First, find your function, the work backwards.

Wild geese
every cause but our own


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