Functional Fitness can be described as training your muscles to work together in preparation for common movements. Whether it be for daily tasks at work, home or for sports, this type of training can assist in multiple areas of life.

Functional Fitness for athletes can prepare your body for the movements and sports in which you participate, focusing on optimizing your movements that are specific to your athletic discipline.

This type of training encapsulates all of the muscles that need attention for your sport, preventing any weaknesses from developing and addressing any weaknesses that exist. Time is crucial for athletes, so training periods are not wasted in one area or on movements that are not performed during certain athletic performance.

One example of a functional fitness move is a back squat. While operating as an illustration of the everyday movement of getting out of a chair, it also strengthens the glutes, quadriceps, hips, hamstrings, thighs and core.

The back squat encompasses the movement of multiple muscles and multiple joints, which is the hallmark of functional exercises. What these movements/exercises embody is in direct contrast to isolation exercises such as the leg or bicep curl. Functional exercises are more useful in day to day life as a result of the myriad of muscles that they can strengthen and improve. Any athlete training for hockey, football, rugby, baseball, basketball or golf will benefit from the back squat because of the number of muscles that it helps to strengthen when done properly.

The squat is a skill and a primal movement. Performing it correctly requires guidance to prevent injury from improper form. The more improved and efficient the mechanics in the squat, the more potential there is to generate force and improved connective tissue strength.

How to perform the perfect back squat:

  1. Stand with your feet a little bit wider than your shoulders, feet pointed almost perfectly straight

  2. Shoulders are back, and elbows are slightly as well with palms facing forward and the wrists are straight. The bar should sit comfortably across your shoulders

  3. The spine is neutral and should remain so throughout the movement with the pelvis staying in line with the spine. Be careful not to round the upper back

  4. Look straight ahead, inhale into the belly and lower back keeping your rib cage down and start by bending the knees quickly followed by unlocking the hips, bringing them back slightly. Keep hips back while bending knees

  5. Keep the chest, shoulders and elbows in position as butt begins to stick out. Eyes and face remain facing forward

  6. If mobility allows it, the best squat depth is hips below knees. If not, station a box below the butt to target as the low point

  7. Core should be engaged through the entire movement including the bottom

  8. Push through the middle of your feet and spread the floor (knees out) with your torso as straight as possible on the ascension

    If you’re unsure of your squat form, speak with a fitness professional for guidance and assessment.