Functional Fitness vs. HIIT vs. Weight Training

Functional Fitness vs. HIIT vs. Weight Training

Many individuals recognize the term Functional Fitness due to its meteoric rise in the fitness world. However, not everyone understands how Functional Fitness compares to other fitness programs. It is often confused with high intensity interval training (HIIT) as well as weight training. While certain aspects of Functional Fitness are similar to HIIT and weight training, it is a distinct fitness regimen.

What is Functional Fitness?

While many individuals use Functional Fitness as a method to stay in shape, others perform it as a competitive sport. The fitness regimen combines elements of HIIT, weight lifting, gymnastics, plyometrics, and many other exercises. However, most of the workouts consist of aerobics, bodyweight exercises, and Olympic weight lifting. It is a program designed to develop strength and conditioning to improve overall fitness.

Athletes score their workouts as a means of competition. While many treat Functional Fitness as a fitness program, the founders never intended for it to be that way. They meant for it to function as a means to obtain optimal physical proficiency based on the 10 recognized fitness domains. These include accuracy, agility, balance, cardio endurance, coordination, flexibility, power, speed, stamina, and strength.

What is HIIT?

HIIT, as the name implies, is a type of interval training. It involves short intervals of anaerobic exercise followed by brief periods of a lower intensity recovery exercises. HIIT workouts tend to be 30 minutes or less due to their intensity level. HIIT can improve athleticism and athletic capacity. Compared to other fitness regimens, HIIT is not as effective at building muscle. However, HIIT is a powerful fat loss program, which can help define muscles. It is also an effective means to improve cardiovascular fitness as well as improve glucose regulation.

HIIT vs. Functional Fitness

HIIT workouts are always interval exercises, whereas Functional Fitness contains elements of HIIT. Take the Fran workout, for example. Fran requires individuals to perform 21, 15, and 9 reps of thrusters and pull-ups for time. Most individuals cannot perform all of these exercises in one go. Instead, they break them up into 7, 5, and 3 reps for three sets. However, highly skilled athletes can perform the Fran WOD in one complete set. While some deconstruct the Fran workout into an interval workout, it is not necessary to do so. Functional Fitness also puts emphasis on constant variance. HIIT workouts are usually cardio-centric and do not offer the variability of Functional Fitness.

What is Weight Training?

The term weight training encompasses a few different fitness regimens depending on whom you ask. It could mean powerlifting, weightlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and so on. The primary purpose of weight training is to increase strength and muscle size. Individuals perform a number of reps and sets of specific exercises using a variety of weights to improve strength, endurance, and muscle size.

Individuals make use of barbells, dumbbells, weight machines, and other equipment to achieve these goals. They also use other accessories to assist with the exercises. Some examples include lifting straps, weightlifting belts, gloves, wraps, and more.

There is a strong focus on proper form as well. While the main purpose is to avoid injury, good form also prevents an individual from using a different muscle to make various exercises easier to perform. Many in the weight lifting community refer to this as cheating.

Functional Fitness vs. Weight Training

As was the case with HIIT, Functional Fitness contains elements of weight training. Numerous fitness exercises incorporate barbell lifts; however, Functional Fitness uses a variety of weights not found in a tradition gym. For example, functional fitness workouts call for medicine balls and kettlebells. Functional Fitness also exposes athletes to non-traditional lifts. This keeps workouts from feeling stale over time. However, Functional Fitness gyms can be more difficult to locate than traditional gyms. This can limit what workouts individuals can perform due to the lack of necessary equipment. Another difference is how the workouts affect the human body. Athletes tend to have greater endurance and jump capability whereas weightlifters tend to have greater upper body strength [1].

The Bottom Line

Functional Fitness, HIIT, and weight training are all excellent means of exercise. However, they each have different goals. Individuals interested in improving their cardiovascular capabilities tend to gravitate toward HIIT while those who want to improve strength focus on weight training. As Functional Fitness contains elements of HIIT and weight training, it can help individuals achieve both of these goals.

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