How Functional Fitness became the new Bodybuilding


Blog #7. 1/8/18

Flip through a Muscle and Fitness magazine. Check out the fitness section at Dicks Sporting Goods. Walk into any big box globo gym. You’ll begin to notice things that you wouldn’t have noticed a decade ago. These things are all related to the functional fitness movement that has swept the fitness industry, mainly due to the rise of CrossFit.

All of the staple fitness magazine are on board and have numerous articles monthly on exercises that used to be either taboo or even unknown. You never used to read about kettle bell swings, clean and jerks, or wall balls in a magazine dedicated to building a bigger physique.

When CrossFit first started, everyone was either hand making their own equipment, or ordering it from one of very few places in the country that produced it. Now, with the rise of companies like Rogue Fitness, amongst numerous other manufacturers, functional fitness equipment is abundant. Hell, even self-care equipment like foam rollers and mobility balls have become popular with this movement.  Now you can walk into your local sporting goods store and pick up a pair of gymnastics rings, a speed rope, kettle bells and bumper plates.

The real testament that functional fitness is bigger than ever, is right there in the big box gyms. They’ve realized the trend is here to stay and have dropped ridiculous money to make parts of their gyms mimic  those of CrossFit gyms. Initially, lifting platforms with bumper plates, pull-up racks, and kettle bells were “dangerous” and not allowed in your typical gym. Now in 2018, with the demand for functional fitness so high, all these gyms have full pull-up rigs and areas for olympic weightlifting.

But why?

Do people not like Arnold anymore?

There’s nothing wrong with the sport of bodybuilding. Building muscle and being dedicated to the gym isn’t unhealthy in any regard. That’s why it’s been the # 1 go-to for training programs for decades.

Or has it just been because nothing else was popular enough?

Ask yourself this: how many people actually want to look like pro body builders? Like the ones on the front of the magazines that look like they’re straight out of the movies. It’s an unrealistic, unattractive, and unattainable look for most. Instead, how about the look of an athlete? A muscular physique that looks capable of running a fast mile, playing sports, and being strong enough to deal with any physical situation. That has a lot more appeal.

But hasn’t that always been the case? Why now?


I keep saying “functional fitness” but most I’m referring to CrossFit. As CrossFit gyms spread like wildfire around 2010 and social media was also roaring, people started noticing. Exposure led people to see there was something different than bodybuilding. Another option.  Something for everyone that emphasized actual health and fitness, and you could do it in your garage.

People started to notice that working out with athletic-style  full-body movements, with some barbells mixed in, was a lot of fun. Not only fun, it also produced results. An exercise routine that weekly includes heavy squats, deadlifts, and presses, along with dynamic lifts like the clean & jerk and snatch, plus plenty of body weight exercises, and some cardio is sure to keep boredom away and results plenty. It’s a good time, it builds muscle and burns fat, and people don’t wear headphones. They talk to each other and form relationships in the gym.

The functional fitness movement appeals to the athlete, as well as the soccer mom and everyone in between. It builds serious muscle if you want to it (lift heavy more often) and also burns fat when paired with a whole food based diet. You also start to develop an excellent set of lungs. There has definitely become a more health-centered focus around the concept of “Fitness” as compared to days of old when it was only about big muscle and symmetry. Finally, fitness is sexy again.

So friends, go do some power cleans and burpees and get sexy. And if you hit up some curls on your way out, we ain’t mad.

If you’re in the Murfreesboro area and interested in learning more about getting started with Functional Fitness, click here to book a No Sweat Intro to have a chat with one of the coaches at CrossFit Rampage so we can find out how we can best help you.

If you’re in the Nashville area, hit up CrossFit H-Dub (head coach Trey Fitch pictured)