Dr Bryce Fleming

Chiropractor - Author - Professional Speaker






Most gym equipment is for isolation movements, which is a form of exercise where the movement is restricted to one joint only. For example, the leg extension is an isolation exercise for the quadriceps. In this example, specialised types of equipment are used to ensure that other muscle groups have minimum involvement, and help the user maintain a stable posture while movement occurs only around the knee joint.


The leg extension is clearly NOT a movement pattern that the human genome has spent millions of years perfecting. In fact, research shows that the repetition of these types of exercises can lead to an increase in repetitive strain injuries, disproportional muscular growth and long-term joint injuries. Isolation exercises can, however, be useful in rehabilitation after an injury or for sports specific training such as bodybuilding.




Functional movement recruits several muscle groups at once and always includes movement around two or more joints. These are the type of movements you do when you first begin walking, and should continue doing throughout your life.


Think of a toddler doing a squat. Toddlers have perfect form and technique, yet no one teaches them how to do it. The movement is ‘wired’ into children’s gene codes just as it is wired into yours.


Functional movements:

·      Are natural and innate

·      Require more glucose/glycogen use during exercises than isolation movements

·      Improve insulin sensitivity

·      Allow you to get a full body workout in faster

·      Improve aerobic function during an anabolic workout

·      Improve reaction time and balance

·      Decreases the risk of injury during sports or activities of daily living

·      Allow you to lift heavier weights and build more strength than isolation exercises

·      Strengthen your joints through their full range of motion    and improve muscle balance

·      Improve bone strength and calcium absorption

·      Lead to quicker neuromuscular adaptation and generalised endocrine (hormonal) response


Functional movements improve a person’s ability to function independently in the real world, underlying perhaps their most important fitness benefit: being good at life!