Bodybuilding vs Functional Fitness: Which Approach Is Better for Overall Health and Wellness?

Bodybuilding vs Functional Fitness: Which Approach Is Better for Overall Health and Wellness?

Fitness has many paths to success. Functional fitness and bodybuilding are popular options with different benefits. Do you think bodybuilding and functional fitness can be combined for a balanced workout? On this episode of The New Helix Experience podcast, Tim Frey shares about Bodybuilding vs Functional Fitness: Which Approach Is Better for Overall Health and Wellness?

You’ll Learn:

  • Tim’s history and story with both bodybuilding and functional fitness.
  • What is bodybuilding?
  • What is functional fitness?
  • What makes both work?
  • Some suggestions before taking on functional fitness.
  • Key principles to consider when choosing between functional fitness and bodybuilding.


Connect with Tim on Twitter and Instagram

What’s up, guys? Thanks for checking out this episode. We are talking about bodybuilding versus functional fitness. Which approach is better for overall health and Wellness?

So before I broach the topic with you, I wanted to give you my history and story with both bodybuilding and functional fitness. So I first started out as a personal trainer when I was.

18 and I was actually unqualified at the time.

And the gym I worked in was heavily into bodybuilding, so therefore if you put into an environment of a certain thing, you generally just become that certain thing.

So I’ve got heavily into bodybuilding at the time, so I started training with some guys, you know, put up 15 kilos pretty quickly of muscle, got super into the body.

But in the whole like bro split like chest day back day, leg day, shoulder day like the whole thing snorting Jack3D. You know, taking every ******* supplement under the sun, just like went for.

All full hard at the bodybuilding thing, so in terms of like, my experiences with bodybuilding before you sitting out there saying I’ve got to know **** about bodybuilding like I did it for like 5 years hung around, went to all the comps friends with all the people that run the comps like, you know like a full good five year send that body building so.

Like I’m well versed in it and then I’m well versed in functional fitness as well because that’s what my gym is.

But what happened with me is I got a little bit bored of bodybuilding, which I’m sure if you’ve ever done bodybuilding, you’ll know that the boredom creeps in.

It gets very real. There’s only so many Mondays you can do chest day, and there’s only so many Tuesdays you can do leg day. And there’s only so many days you can do the same **** over and over before you get a little bit bored of it. So.

That’s kind of where I started doing Olympic lifting in 2012. I learned that from Greg half at ECU.

Told me Olympic lifting and then I kind of took it on from there and it became like a little bit of a passion for me.

Then you sprinkle in like competitive sports has played soccer my whole life, you know? So fitness and conditioning was a thing.

So I always had that and then I started doing conditioning pieces. Met cons like that kind of stuff until I moved to America and really learned like fundamentals of strength conditioning at University of Arizona, where I worked for a while.

And that’s kind of where like the Helix method came together and was the bodybuilding, it was the Olympic lifting, it was the conditioning, it was the metcons, it was USA. And that’s what my gym is built.

So I wanted to kind of set the scene on why you would choose either body building or functional fitness.

So there are two distinct approaches, and both have different philosophies. Sorry if you can hear some banging.

Here we have our.

House made essentially banging pots together, but apology to that.

So someone that’s interested in bodybuilding may prioritise muscle mass or improving their physiques. So essentially you want to look good naked.

The kind of aims of this is sculpting muscles, improving their physique to like an aesthetically pleasing appearance. But the problem with improving your physique to an aesthetically pleasing appearance is you’re never happy.

Even today, when I look in the mirror, I still think I’m small and I’m 96 kilos. I’m definitely not small, but it’s just something that’s like body, just small.

Bit hard bodybuilding involves performing like a variety of isolation exercises. Essentially, it’s it’s more isolation training than big compound training, not that many bodybuilding programmes, emphasis, big lifts, squat, deadlift, bench press, military press. It’s more single joint stuff, dumbbell.

On the other hand, like people that are interested in functional fitness, may prioritise improving their overall health and wellness as their ability to perform daily activities with ease. That is what I would differentiate and say that functional fitness is.

They may perform exercises, you know that mimic real life movements, so this could be like I said before, squats, deadlift, bench, lunge, you know, to build functional strength about improving their coordination and mobility.

In short, like someone that may choose bodybuilding if they want to improve their physique and appearance, but it will get.

They’re boring and someone that wants to improve functional fitness also wants to look good naked, but wants to improve their overall health as well and have proper physical function.

You know, it’s worth noting that both approaches can be combined to some degree, which I have done at my gym with the Helix method and the the training programme that we’ve run.

So I wanna talk about kind of problems of each and like kind of what happened before functional fitness was invented recently.

I probably in the last 10 years, so people that performed bodybuilding or traditional strength training programmes often did a lot of isolation type exercises which worked on one particular muscle group.

They definitely improve the size and strength of the muscle, but it wouldn’t necessarily translate into improved physical strength or daily function.

You can see that in a lot of people that practise bodybuilding hard, maybe like, you know, considered weak at some exercises.

Generally, there’s a disconnect between that and like functional strength in day to day activities which can lead to imbalances and strength mobility and obviously increase at risk of injury.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a clip, but it was like a bodybuilders trying to Sprint and it was too ******* jacked, juiced up dudes, and they weren’t for like a, you know, like a 30 metre Sprint. And one of them tore his hamstring.

Off the bone.

Because they’re just not used to that like functional, fast, rapid change of direction force that they’re putting through the.

It’s more slow and controlled. Another example is someone who focuses on biceps and bench presses. They may develop like huge arms, but they may struggle with like abilities like just general abilities like touching your shoulder and like having good shoulder range of motion like groceries, climbing, that kind of stuff. The whole goal of functional fitness is to bridge the gap.

And provide exercises that are more closely mimicking real life movements and activities. Therefore, increase your health. I think incorporating functional movements into like a regular workout.

Team is probably a good thing as well, so you know the big idea that actually makes functional fitness work.

As I’ve mentioned previously, is it’s ability to, you know, develop you functionally throughout a range of things. So run, Sprint, jump, walk, lift, pull, push, lunge, rotate.

Grace like it’s just the whole game.

Of you know, movements that a person does as well as like mobility, coordination, balance like these types of things.

It’s something that you just do not get in a chest back row split. It’s just something that is just, you know, impossible to do, so to speak. So I think it’s important.

That you incorporate exercises and elements of functional fitness into all forms of training, like bodybuilding per se in itself is very limited in one directional.

Dimensional really good for people if they’re just getting into training, but it isn’t like the be all end. All of it. I think what makes body building really accessible for all fitness levels is it’s very simple.

You can just pop on a machine, bang some chest presses. You can pop on a leg press.

Do some leg curls, you know, sorry.

Leg press so you can do some leg curls. Hamstring curls, that type of thing. But the other thing is like the accessibility of functional fitness.

It’s very simple to do. It’s very low tech and you don’t really need too much equipment. Couple of barbells, couple of dumbbells.

And that’s basically it. But you know you can say that bodybuilding can be done with the same thing, but a lot of you know, good high tech bodybuilding programmes involve involve high end equipment which can only get in certain types of gyms. Yeah, the whole idea behind functional fitness is it close to the mirrors.

Real world movements and activities gets you stronger, healthier and more functional body so.

Some suggestions before taking on a functional fitness programme is I’d probably start with a bodybuilding programme just to get you on board and get you moving.

Developing, you know, coordination, you know, your ability to recruit the right muscles, building up a base level of muscle mass is definitely a good thing. People get buried when they just jump into a functional fitness.

Gramme, because they just don’t have that like base level of musculature and they’re the people that do really well with people that are like quite jacked naturally.

But before you start functional fitness, you really want to think about like assessing your goals is you want to evaluate. If you want to just look good naked or you want to look good naked, improve your health and Wellness, reduce your chance of injuries.

Or both at the same time.

You want to look at a gym or a programme that you know, chooses exercise that mimic real-world movements or situations that are going to come up in your day to day.

You want something that is going to be periodized and structured, but also is going to give you a variety you want. Something is going to focus on movement patterns, so like lines, pull, push, hinge.

What rotate, brace, Sprint, jump those types of things. Does the programme have that then does the programme progress gradually or are you doing the same thing every single week?

Are you doing 4 by 10? Four by 10, four by 10 on five exercises? Doing the same thing over and over? Is there any progression in it?

Then you wanted to look at your ability to work functional fitness into your daily life. Is it simple to do? Is it easy to do? Is it something that you can consistently do over and over again?

So someone that transitions from bodybuilding to functional fitness, what would be next for them?

So I think once you make that transition, you want to start thinking about, you know, five key areas here it’s like.

You know, you’ve taken away the stimulus of improving your physique generally to an extent. So we need to make sure our nutrition is tight, like are we eating correct amounts of protein, is our carbohydrate intake correct?

Are we having enough calories to meet our goals and produce our goals from a body composition point of view?

Next up, we can start to think about doing add-ons like mindfulness, meditation and yoga. All three can be done simultaneously, but I would probably recommend starting with one of them.

I’ll probably start with yoga because that does include some mindfulness and meditation. The fourth thing here is we’re going to talk about endurance training.

It’s pretty common in in functional fitness where someone would bolt on a running programme with this.

How I would structure that running programme would be to do it on your lower body sessions on the same day, so if you did lower body on Monday, Wednesday, Friday I would run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

You know, one day, two days or three days on that whatever the hardest session is, I would run on that day. The problem is if you do it every other day, so you do legs on Monday run Tuesday.

Legs on Wednesday, you just never get the rest that you.

Need and in terms of like creating overall health which is the topic of this podcast.

Running is definitely a good thing to do. If your programme or your gym doesn’t have running in it, I would definitely think about incorporating that. But then on the other hand, it can be overdone as well.

And then the last thing you know, after the transition from bodybuilding to functional fitness, what’s next would be like rehab and prehab work?

So if you’re getting niggles, injuries still after, let’s say six months of functional fitness, you’d need to look into how we can improve those areas going forward.

Lastly, things to consider, well, not lastly, but things to consider before choosing between functional fitness and bodybuilding is to assess the goals.

Like what do you want? Like, is it just to look good naked, or do you want to look good naked and health? You need to learn about the philosophies of each approach. So which philosophy?

Suits you better. Bodybuilding would be, you know, going to the gym four to six days a week on your own headphones in not looking at anyone, not talking to anyone and doing the same old exercise over and over. Functional fitness is.

You know, like good functional fitness is 3 week training blocks.

Changed every four weeks or every four four times for 12 weeks. You know, training with the team, training with the crew vibes like all those types of things. So they’re very different things.

Next, you need to consider your lost all on activities. Can you show up and do functional fitness? You know, with a bunch of other people or you more someone that needs to be training in a group.

Last one is like focus on safety. Bodybuilding is.

Probably a little bit more safe than functional fitness, just because like there’s not too much dynamic movement involved. Functional Fitness has a higher degree of injury risk, but I guess that’s up to you. In conclusion, like think about which one is going to be best for you. You know, obviously I’m.

Bias, but I think that for overall health and Wellness, I think functional fitness is a way to go because it does incorporate some aspects of bodybuilding.

And then you’re getting the conditioning as well. I know a lot of people that just do bodybuilding and they’re pretty like sloppy out of shape and lazy. I know a lot of people that do bodybuilding and they’re in shape and.

You know all over it, but it just depends. Like are you a lazy type of person that needs to be?

Pushed with your conditioning work as well, you know that’s that’s completely up to you. A lot of like competitive bodybuilders really look good for like a week and a year, which is also a problem.

A lot of people that do functional fitness look good year round, so it just depends what you prioritise. Thanks for listening.

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