Bicep Curls? I Think Not! The Secret To True Strength Is Functional Movements!

If you’re new to CrossFit® or the fitness community in general, the terminology can be overwhelming at first. But one of the most important differences you can understand is that of functional movements vs isolation movements.

Functional movements or functional training aims to improve your:

  • Strength
  • Balance/coordination
  • Power
  • Range of motion

They are the types of things you do every day and will help you on your quest to living your best life.

Functional movements are almost always “compound” movements that involve more than one muscle group and more than one joint. For example, a squat or burpee is considered a functional movement.

Isolation movements, on the other hand, are movements that “isolate” one muscle group, like bicep curls. These movements require the use of fewer muscles and less connective tissue will be activated

Some drawbacks from isolation movements can include:

  • Overtraining certain muscles
  • Unnatural movements leading to injury
  • Muscles that look good but aren’t strong (Aka vanity muscles)

What type of movements do CrossFit use?

You’re probably clued into this by now but CrossFit programming focuses on functional movements over isolation movements. The reason for this is because functional movements involve multiple joints and muscle groups and therefore, help you to build maximum strength.

As we mentioned, functional movements recruit stabilizer ligaments and use multiple muscle groups, which will do you many more favors to your fitness than isolation movements can. You will see the benefit of functional movements a lot sooner than you would with isolation movements, too.

Because functional movements more closely mimic natural movements, like getting up from a seated position or picking something up off the floor, they really do help you to function at your greatest level when it comes to living your best life.

They aren’t easy, though! Compound or functional movements require more power to execute, since you are training multiple muscle groups at one time. But functional training also saves you from overtraining one muscle group, using unnatural movements, and helps build strong muscles rather than “show muscles”.

CrossFit programming regularly incorporates functional movements into the Workouts of the Day (WODs). These movements are  “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity” in order to achieve the maximum benefit for your lifestyle.


Providing a well-rounded fitness program is the aim of CrossFit WODs and by focusing on strength and stamina in these workouts, this community can do wonders for improving your everyday life.

From increased mobility to improved posture and reduced risk of injury, functional training is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of exercise… and for good reason!

So say “bye bye” to bicep curls and give functional training a shot today.


Please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below…

1 comment

  • I have personally experienced this in a CF class. A person comes in from an isolation or body building background and is in awe when a CrossFitter can lift heavier and faster then them. You also can loose a lot of range of motion and flexibility from isolation movements alone. Although they have there place and CF doesn’t completely avoid them. I have personally seen results much quicker when using functional fitness as the vehicle to health and wellness.


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