The definition of Functional Fitness

I have written about Functional Fitness for almost two years now.  During the course of my writings, and with the advice I’ve handed out, I have covered what I call the 4 dimensions of Funcitonal Fitness. For ease in the future, whenever you see me type Functional Fitness (notice the fancy capital letters) you will know exactly what I am talking about. I briefly touched on it here in a previous post about fitness trend predictions.

Functional Fitness dimension #1: FF is core centered
        This one is self-explanatory. I am firm believer that a strong core is essential to achieving a level of fitness, as you are as weak as your weakest link.
Functional Fitness dimension #2: FF is not just about functional strength
        What I mean here is that some people feel that having total body functional strength is the key to fitness. They are not wrong, but they are only partially right. Other aspects of fitness in addition to strength are agility, timing, balance, coordination, agility, power, endurance, flexibility, and stamina (among others). These other aspects of fitness are not neglected in a Functional Fitness program.
Functional Fitness dimension #3: FF programs work movements, not muscles
       This is also not a new concept, but is still a very important one. Your brain does not recognize individual muscles, as it does recognize movement patterns. Functional Fitness helps your body and mind to work together to activate ALL the muscles needed to do a task effeciently and effectively. This is essential to reduce injury as we do simple life tasks, especially as we age.
Functional Fitness dimension #4:  FF frequently utilizes HIIT
       HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has become a new buzz term, mostly because of the increasing amount of research in favor of it.  Basically this means that you do intense circuits with a quick break. These intervals are repeated so in one example it would mean that instead of just jogging on the treadmill, you are sprinting and stopping, sprinting and stopping, etc.
Together, these 4 dimensions form the groundwork for everything we do here at Kemme Fitness. Other programs may tweek these ideas some, but Functional Fitness programs tend to have these goals in mind.
As you bop around the website and use the free resources, just keep these dimensions in mind. This is especially important if you mix in other types of workouts. You don’t have to “drink my Kool-aid,” but if you want to know my foundation, here it is clearly defined. 

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Erik

    If I understand you correctly, what functional fitness programs like yours offer is a sort of novel, one-stop shopping for those four dimensions, whereas a more traditional program of, say, running (or swimming, cycling, etc.), strength training, and playing sports treats them as different events. I say this because: first, “core training” has long been recognized as important (I used to do 500-1000 sit-ups a day when I was training karate); second, “agility, timing, balance, coordination, agility, power, endurance/stamina, and flexibility” are important in most sports; third, pretty much all weight training exercises except bicep curls and a few others involve multiple-muscle movements; and fourth, high intensity intervals are also standard fare in sports like soccer, basketball, wrestling, and so on. Sorry if I’m stating this a bit antagonistically, it’s meant as a friendly request for clarification, but I’m do lazy to reword it.
    Best, Erik

  2. Kemme Fitness

    You brought up tons of great questions/points, so I’ll try to talk more on each. You are sort of hitting it right, I’ll start out by saying. I think people who do sports and train for them have it pretty much all, however, most people are not that active in sports like that, especially as we get older with families. A side note: I personally feel that any “ab” work is not necessarily working your core, as the term core means more your entire area (deep stablizier muscles included) from hips to shoulders.

    Running and cycling tend to miss many muscle groups and if you do not crosstrain, you may have a great life running, but may miss out on the benefits of total body fitness. Runners tend not to argue with me much on this.

    Weight lifters is more complex and they have been on the defensive with me lately. The problem here is that the words “weight lifting” mean different things to different people. Olympic lifts are great functional exercises, but I still see tons of folks targeting biceps and triceps one day, then chest and back the next day, etc. They are isolating muscles and are not working complex movements. I also see the effects on these folks later in life with injuries.

    So I am doing my best to define what I value and feel is a great balance in life for overall fitness, which is why I settled on those 4 dimensions. I feel they all need to be met in order to qualify for a “Functional Fitness” program, not to say other types of programs are functional as they help the person achieve their goals. Functional Fitness as a specific term, according to me, means those 4 things. I’d say most college sports programs would meet all my criteria, but runners do not. Further, many who are weight lifting do not. Some are working many aspects of fitness, but missing things like stamina, balance, or other aspects. It really depends on what their weight training program really is. Some people might be doing what I would call Functional Fitness, but call it weight lifting. It just depends.

    What I offer, really, is just a place where you can access tons of variety for free. That’s it. I’m just sharing what is already out there, just not in one place, unless you want to pay $100 for only 90 days.

    Hpe that helps. Let me know what you think

    1. Erik

      Thanks for taking the time to clarify Pete. Right now I don’t have time to play pick-up games, or take up martial arts with scheduled sessions. I need to squeeze my workouts in when work and family life permit–early morning, late afternoon, evening–so a functional fitness program like yours that I can do alone whenever I have an opportunity would be appropriate. Although I think eventually I would like to get back into martial arts, although this time it wouldn’t be full contact–that’s a young man’s game. Nothing like putting your foot up above your head!

      As for weight lifting, I’ve generally done a back and front routine, starting with big muscles or movements, and finishing with the biceps, on front days, or triceps, on back days, although I didn’t do bicep curls for a long time. Right now I do them with dumbbells transiting into shoulder presses, which is a nice total movement. Anyway, my left shoulder continues to feel healed, so in another 6 months or so of strengthening it, I should be ready to stress it with less controlled exercises.

  3. Kemme Fitness


    Seems like you have a nice program. Let me just quick share where I am at. I’m pushing 40 years old and no longer do any sports (too busy with family and work and oil painting). I workout 4 days a week at most for 30-45 minutes to stay in great shape. My shape isn’t perfect, depending on how much beer, pizza, and wine that I had over the weekend, but typically just the 4 days a week is all I need. That is why I like these workouts (you get it all done quickly, hence why I call it efficient). Plus I am incredibly clutsy and need all the advantages I can get (stitches almost once a year, only 9 fingers left, etc). 🙂

    Doing Kemme Fitness or other Functional Fitness programs would require you to change the way you think a bit. I usually get the question, “so what muscles does this work?” or “are we working our chest, abs, etc?” My answer is always that we are working them all each time we workout. Now, some workouts are harder on the shoulders or are more lower body focused, but essentially these workouts are total-body.

    An idea I would suggest for you is to try out a few of the more fun exercises either in the middle of your workout, or at the end. Then, instead of doing one of our 12 week programs like K-Fit, just pick out one of the crazy workouts off a workout page (at home, beginner, or at the gym) and try it out. Don’t change your program, just add some fun stuff in here and there. My guess is that you will also become addicted to the variety and interesting exercises. If not, then what you are currently doing is still great. Just a thought.


    1. Erik

      Yah, that’s probably how I would do it. Mix in a few new things at first and see how it goes (I’ve already been thinking about a climbing rope). But as I’ve communicated here or perhaps on Jason’s blog/FB, I’ve had nagging injuries for the first time in my life over the last few years (I turned 50 last year), and had allowed myself to get pretty out of shape the last few years I was in Mozambique, so I want to get my body all healed and in what I consider basic shape before trying anything new or stressing my body in new ways. I just did 200 bench today, so that’s a good sign the shoulder is stable now, although I still don’t want to really push it for another several months, and I’m wary of exposing the joint to odd torques or angles. Right now super controlled movements are probably best. I’m also focusing on getting my running speed up in the 7-8 mile range, and will try sprints once a week or so pretty soon. But I like the idea of efficiency. I got married eight years ago and have struggled to fit in exercise ever since. It was so easy when I was single and had a more active lifestyle. I try to get in an hour a day six days a week now, and am getting better about adapting my schedule when stuff comes up.

      1. Kemme Fitness

        Awesome to hear you are still fighting the fight. I can’t believe you put that much time into it. Great job! I hope you heal up soon!

  4. Erik

    ‘Still fighting the fight’ is easy when you consider the alternative: increasing decrepitude!

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