Workout of the Day

Is Functional Just A Fad?


Did you know the same word can have multiple, simultaneous meanings? In the case of the word “functional” as it applies to movement and exercise, it’s true.

I’m going to choose to willingly cast aside the more cavelier use of the term “functional,” commonly used to justify elaborate and silly exercises aimed at fooling people into thinking a coach/trainer must be smart and have tapped into some deep training secrets, because why else would they be standing on an exercise ball and attached to seven separate resistance bands with kettlebells hanging from their waist?

All jokes aside, functional movement or functional training has two meanings:

First, functional refers to a movement or exercise program with a close proximity to basic, natural human movement. This definition of functionality looks at how humans are naturally built and move (biomechanics), and what basic movements are and have been an integral part of human existence. Generally, this leaves us with some basic patterns, as well as a tendency towards complex, multi-joint movements. Think walking, running, jumping and landing, hinging, squatting, pushing, pulling, carrying, and throwing. This also means moving more slowly for long durations and distances, moving quickly and powerfully for short bursts, and even domains in between.

Second, and more often forgotten, functional refers to a movement or exercise program that yields functional (useful) adaptations in an individual. For an example, let’s look at the bench press, an exercise often caught in the “functional or not” crosshairs. Having stronger shoulders is a functional adaptation. It allows for greater shoulder health, greater pushing, pulling, carrying, and throwing capacities, and (side benefit) looks good in the mirror, too. While one could attempt to argue that the bench press is not a functional exercise because you’ll (hopefully) never find yourself lying down and needing to push an object horizontally over your chest, the fact that the bench press is one of the most simple and effective ways to develop shoulder strength renders this argument against its functionality nil. The more effective a movement or program is at developing a desired adaptation, the more functional it is. It should be no surprise that movements can, and often do, adhere to both definitions of functional.

Can you spot how the movements and protocols used in CrossFit No Boundaries' programming are functional according to definition one? According to definition two?

- PS


  • “Jackie”

  • For time:

    • 1000m row

    • 50 thrusters (45/35)

    • 30 pull-ups


  • 3 rds

    • 10 front rack reverse lunge (5/leg)

    • 10 bent over BB row