What is functional fitness and why explore it as part your training? By Swell Nel

What is functional fitness and why explore it as part your training? By Swell Nel

Functional fitness is more than just working out. It's about getting in shape and being strong for the activities that life throws at us. Functional fitness improves your day-to-day life and puts you on the path to having the stamina to really embrace every day!  It can help us feel great, build body and movement confidence, while also building lean muscle mass and maintain bone density - which is crucial as we age. In this blog, I'll explore what functional fitness is with examples and benefits so that you can get started on your own journey towards Swellness (fitness and wellness) incorporating elements of functional fitness. 

What is functional fitness? 

Functional fitness is a type of exercise that focuses on building strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. It's not just about looking good; it's about being able to do things that you need to do in your daily life. Whether that means climbing a ladder at work or pushing a pram with one hand while carrying groceries in the other, functional fitness helps you stay strong and healthy so that you can continue doing the things you love, embrace new skills and be ready for the tasks life often throws at us: e.g. gardening, DIY and chasing the kids, even just into doing their homework. 

The benefits of functional training 

Functional fitness can increase strength, build endurance and reduce your risk of injury. It can also improve your posture, balance, flexibility and mental health. This type of training helps you look better and feel well without having to spend hours in the gym stuck on machines that sometimes don’t support the way our bodies move and are challenged in daily life. 

Functional fitness benefits include: 

  • Increased strength - When using functional training moves, with equipment like the SWELL FIT BAG, you will notice an increase in total body strength. This is because these types of exercises require more coordination than using traditional weights, such as dumbbells or barbells, which focus mostly on one specific area rather than improving overall performance. 
  • Improved endurance - With increased endurance comes improved cardiovascular function which means better oxygen-carrying capacity for a longer amount of time! So, whether it's running upstairs or sprinting across a football field...you'll be able to do it faster once again! 
  • Reduced risk of injury - Functional movements require less stress placed on joints during each rep since there are no traditional free weights involved (like dumbbells). This reduces any chance for overuse injuries as well as strains caused by improper form when lifting heavier objects incorrectly. 

How do I get started with functional fitness? 

If you’re new to the world of functional fitness, a good place to start is with a fitness assessment to check your base level of “functional fitness.” You can do this at home by recording your performance on basic movements like squats, lunges and push ups. Or you can book in for an appointment at your local gym and ask them to assess your body composition (body fat percentage) and movement patterns through a series of tests like body weight squats (how much weight can you squat without losing control), static lunges (how far can you lunge before losing control) and push-up tests. The SWELL FIT HUB offers you the chance to meet with our SWELL trainers, so check there for your opportunity to do this via Zoom if you prefer, or if you can’t find the right trainer locally.   

The best way to begin when starting out with functional fitness is by focusing on the areas that are struggling the most with those first few classes – so, if it hurts when doing squats, then focus on improving those first! If running isn’t common practice, for example, then we would recommend starting off slowly and building up distance over time until, eventually, running becomes comfortable enough for enjoyment purposes. 

The best exercises to perform functional training 

  • Strength exercises. Classic strength training moves, like squats, lunges, and push ups, are great for building muscle mass and increasing your overall strength. But they're also excellent for functional fitness because you can use them to perform everyday tasks like lifting heavy boxes or getting out of a chair without falling over. Check out the SWELL HUB or SWELL TUBE for inspiration, classes and demos to support correct technique. 
  • Core strength exercises. Your core muscles—the deep muscles that support your spine—are important for functional fitness for two reasons: they help you maintain good posture (which is especially important as we age) and they give you better balance. To strengthen your core from a functional point of view, try planks or side planks while using the SWELL FIT BAG for an extra instability-based challenge, or try single-leg deadlifts while holding the SWELL FIT BAG resting on your shoulders, stabilising it with both hands within its centre straps. 
  • Balance exercises. Functional fitness requires good balance, so it's essential that you do activities like walking on an unstable surface, or, in Yoga, balance poses that challenge this skill set without introducing any kind of extra strain on your joints or ligaments outside of what may be caused by just standing up straight against gravity every day! Keep things simple—the best way to improve at something (like balancing) is repetition; try doing some sets every night before bed! Check our Yoga class program in our SWELL HUB as most classes include balance poses – picking your favourite to practise every day for five minutes can be an awesome way to develop your balance and core strength.  

Tips for improving functional fitness. 

Getting started: Think about what you need to do to improve your functional fitness. For example, if your goal is to be able to perform a one-arm push-up, then you should also focus on building strength in the muscles of your upper body. This means that you should perform exercises like bench press and push ups. You can also try adding resistance and an instability challenge by progressing these with a SWELL FIT BAG. The SWELL HUB demos and SWELL TUBE are growing with inspiration to help you find new moves and keep inspired every day. 

Functional fitness can help redefine your workouts and improve your day-to-day life. 

Functional fitness can really help you develop your workouts and improve your day-to-day life. Functional fitness is a style of exercise that builds strength and endurance, improves energy levels, boosts mood, reduces stress and pain, increases flexibility, and improves posture. It's an all-inclusive workout that uses a combination of bodyweight exercises (like push-ups or squats), resistance equipment, as well as instability and functional training tools like the SWELL FIT BAG. 

Functional fitness focuses on movements that you'll use in real life: squatting down to pick up something off the floor; lifting something heavy into a car boot; carrying shopping bags upstairs; standing up after being seated for long periods of time; or climbing stairs one foot at a time. It teaches people how to use their own natural strength instead of relying on bulky machines at the gym or hiring someone else to do it for them. 


The best part about functional fitness is that it makes you feel good about yourself and builds our strength, range of movement and confidence. You’re not just getting the body of your dreams—you’re also improving your mental health and well-being. And who doesn't want that? If you think this type of workout sounds like something you might be interested in, then give it a try. Start incorporating some of these moves into your current routine today so that tomorrow can be even better than today. It only takes ten minutes to make a difference – pick the ten moves you feel would help you the most and try our 10 / 10 workout tracker to get you started. 

 Our swellbeings@swellfitness.co.uk are always here if you have any additional questions. 



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