Why You Need to Be Training Functional Movements

You need to be training functional movements.  Period.  You need to be doing deadlifts.  You need to be doing squats.  You need to be doing presses.  You need to be moving your body through space by jumping, running, pulling up, etc.  You need to be doing burpees.  Let me tell you why.

Functional movements are what the body was meant to do.  The body also naturally does them correctly. Take a look at the list above.  You can find any 2 year old doing these things on a daily basis.  They are picking things up off of the ground.  They are squatting.  They are putting things over their head.  They are running, jumping, falling on the ground and getting up, and pulling themselves up on the couch.  Not only are they doing them but they are doing them with great form. These movements come naturally to us.  Our ancestors had to perform these movements to survive.  That was how they got hunted their food.  It's how they built their shelter.  It's how they moved around.  Modern society has changed all of that, and we no longer need to perform functional movements to survive.  We can order food delivered to our door.  We don't have to build our houses ourselves.  We can drive or fly to anywhere in the world.  

Why can't people do functional movements as they get older? As children we do them constantly. Over the years, however, we quit doing them.  We sit at a desk all day hunched over working.  We spend 4 plus hours a day looking down at our phones.  We commute to and from work in a car with poor posture.  Our day to day life looks much different than our ancestors.  We no longer need to perform functional movements to survive.  This has led to a society of chronically sick people.  For the first time in decades the average life expectancy is starting to decline.  Obesity and chronic disease are at an all time high.  I think it is safe to say that modern society is the least physically fit society in history.

Our ancestors did not need to go to the gym to train.  Their daily lifestyle was training.  When you are performing functional movements every day you stay fit.  Our modern lifestyle, however, leaves many people going throughout an entire day without performing any type of physical activity or performing any functional movement.  Want to lay in bed for a week?  You can do it.  Want to go years without ever moving faster than a walk?  Go for it.  You don’t even need to walk through the grocery store-there’s a cart for that. There is no need to exert yourself anymore.  That is why it is so important that we train.  If we do not train then our body will deteriorate.  It will not operate as it was meant to operate.  What are the results of this?  Chronic disease.  Immobility.  Inability to live by oneself or take care of oneself.  Early death.  The consequences are dire.  

Since we do not do functional movements on a regular basis in our day to day life it is imperative that we do them when we train.  There are many reasons, but two I want to talk about today.  The first, which I have talked about in previous articles, is the effectiveness.  They are the most potent way to get fit.  You can get the most work done in the least amount of time with functional movements.  I don't want to spend much more time on this because I have already talked about it before but suffice it to say functional movements will get you the most bang for your buck.  The other reason, and most critical reason, is that if you never train functional movements then you are setting yourself up for troubles down the road.  If you never train deadlift then you will eventually not be able to pick things up off the ground.  At some point in your life you will either hurt yourself trying to pick something up or not have the strength to pick it up.  If you can't pick something up  then you will forced to have someone else do it for you.  Some people have the luxury to have help at home, but others will be forced to move into a home where they can get assistance.  Same thing with squats.  If you never train squats then eventually you won't be able to stand up or sit down without assistance.  Same thing with burpees.  What happens one day when you fall down and can't get back up?  What about if you never run?  If an emergency arises you will not be able to run if you need to.  Don't do pullups?  Eventually you might not be able to pull yourself up onto the bed or to safety if an accident happens.  I could talk all day about examples of situations you will not be prepared for but the fact is that if you do not train functional movements then, sooner or later, you will need assistance.  You will not longer be independent.  Someone will have to help you live your life.  (I am not saying that this won't happen if you do train functional movements but the likelihood will greatly decrease).  

There are a million and one different workout programs these days.  How do you know which one to do?  One of the biggest things you should look for in a program is if it does functional movements.  If you are never deadlifting, or squatting, or running, or doing pushups, then you will be setting yourself up for issues down the road.  There is a gaping hole in your health and fitness. You might lose some weight but you will not be prolonging your independence.  You will not be creating a buffer between you and sickness.  You will not be getting as fit as you could if you were doing functional movements.  I would encourage you to examine what you do for your training.  If you aren't training then I would tell you to start now.  The longer you wait the farther you will have to go to get healthy and functional and the closer you are to chronic illness.  If you are training then look at what you do most of the time.  Are you doing squats, presses, deadlifts, running, jumping, burpees, etc. most of the time, or are you doing a bunch of sweating without accomplishing much that will help you in the long run?

Some people have gone so long without doing functional movements that they can't perform them safely.  They can't get themselves into a position to deadlift correctly, or they can't press overhead without shoulder pain, or they can't squat with their chest up.  Should these people just skip these movements all together?  Absolutely not!! These are the people who need it more than anyone!  They are closer to needing assistance in day to day life than not needing assistance.  They need to immediately start working at getting to where they can do these movements.  This is where a good trainer comes in.  A good trainer will provide this person with progressions that will help them eventually get to where they can perform functional movements correctly.  For some it might take 2 weeks.  For some it might take 2 years.  But if you aren't working to where you can eventually do functional movements and aren't making some form of progress towards it then you are setting yourself up for trouble down the road.  And if your trainer tells you that you just won't ever do these movements then find a new one.  Your livelihood depends on it.

I hope I have shown you the necessity of doing functional movements.  Fitness can seem like it is all about how you look and how many followers you have on Instagram but this is serious.  This will impact your life expectancy, quality of life, financial bills, and many other things.  You MUST be doing functional movements and doing them consistently.  And if you can't do them now then you need to be working towards doing them.  Your future self will thank you.