The bullseye of functional fitness is improving fitness in order to perform physical tasks in life more easily, more proficiently, and with a higher resistance to injury.
But we’re starting to miss the mark with the general population of people that come to the gym to simply be more fit because we’re staring too hard at the wrong things. Little high-skill idols of movement are being established as the things to chase: muscle-ups, kipping/butterfly pullups, the snatch, the clean and jerk.
To a person pursuing fitness as fitness, these movements can be pursued because achieving proficiency in them can mean that your fitness has increased. Learning new movements and achieving new goals can be fun and rewarding.
But they don’t have to be pursued, and in most cases they shouldn’t be chased down at the expense of movements that translate more directly to the world outside the gym.
You don’t have to have a 200 pound snatch. You don’t have to be able to do kipping muscle-ups. You don’t have to have a sub 2:00 Fran.
But you do have to move things, carry things, and run. Support weight. Be enduring and resilient.
If you’re in the gym for general physical preparation, low-skill movements should be your 99% because low skill movements are 99% of life.
Squat, deadlift, press. Carry, hold, run. Strict pullups. Pushups. Dips. Single arm/single leg work.
Farmer’s carries aren’t sexy, strict presses and pull-ups won’t put you on TV, and no one will give you a sponsorship because you pushed a sled down and back until you puked. There will always be someone who will squat and deadlift more than you.
But if you’re into fitness as fitness, spending your time and effort in the gym on things you can find outside the gym might give you a bigger payoff than chasing little idols.