We asked trainer Amelia Phillips to share the benefits of functional fitness and how to incorporate them into your workouts. 

Discover the benefits of functional fitness



Functional fitness is the concept of training your body in a way that mimics movements you perform daily – better equipping your body for the strains of everyday life, defines trainer and co-founder of voome.com.au, Amelia Phillips.

Functional fitness involves multi-plane movements such as a curtsy lunge with cables or lateral step-ups.

“Functional fitness squeezed into the top 10 (10th place), but I would predict in Australia it would actually rank higher: the fitness industry in Australia is world class, with many great sports and exercise scientists paving the way with innovations – just look at our great Olympic records with such a small population! If a new trend works, we tend to grab it and run with it,” says Phillips.

“Functional fitness helps to improve the mobility of your joints – such as the range of movement in your hips and back – release tight muscles that often lead to imbalances and injury, and improve coordination in movement patterns that mimic everyday life. For example, if you’ve ever witnessed a mum dragging the heavy pram out of the boot, there’s a cable wood-chop coming into play!”

Performed incorrectly, however, and functional fitness can do more harm than good.

“Deadlifts, for example, are a great functional move (who doesn’t lift something heavy from the floor on a regular basis?), but when performed without correct core engagement, neutral spine and synchronicity with the legs, it can be a very dangerous move. Add some hefty weight to the bar, and I’ve seen backs lock up in spasm,” says Phillips.

“One-on-one training with a functional training expert is the best place to start, and adopting my 10 per cent rule!”

How to use it

Try these key functional moves:

» Reverse lunges with core rotation: teach the obliques, and hip and leg stabilisers to support you during single-leg movements (such as lunging to reach something either side of you).

» Turkish get-up: uses practically every muscle in the body while you are balancing an unstable load (a single dumbbell). It improves leg, core and upper body coordination and increases the stability of your shoulder joints. Mimics everyday moves such as getting up off the floor with a heavy load in one hand.

» Barbell thruster: helps with everyday movements such as picking objects up off the floor and moving them overhead. It improves strength and coordination, and mobility of your legs, hips, back and shoulders.