7 Laws of Functional Fitness for Older Adults

Got some tips to share with you today from my friend Dr. Dan Ritchie.  Dan owns two training centers in Indiana, and specializes in working with “older adults” in the 50-70 age range.

dr dan

I got to hang out and chat with Dan last month in San Diego, and came away with so many great actionable pieces of advice on training the older adults we work with at FVT.

I wanted to share with you Dan’s “7 Laws of Functional Fitness for Older Adults”. These laws are based around what he’s learned in working with over 2000 clients in this age group at his training centers in Indiana over the last decade or so.


7 Laws of Functional Fitness for Older Adults
by Dr. Dan Ritche, author, The Functional Fitness Solution

1 – Train All Components of Function

There is a long list of variables that contribute to physical function and muscle strength is only one of these components. All of these variables are important to the
successful completion of functional tasks such as walking, stepping, bending, reaching, lifting, etc. because physical movement is quite complicated. Even the seemingly simple act of walking requires the contribution of around 200 different muscles each playing their part, great or small, to accomplish this task.

2 – Be purposeful

I often stress with my students and trainers I am teaching that at any point they should be able to answer the question “Why are you doing that particular exercise for that particular client at this point in their training program?” There should be a solid purpose for every exercise movement and every variation that is used and, if not, it needs to be re-evaluated.

3 – Train in all 3 planes

Life is three-dimensional. You reach, bend, lean, turn, twist, stoop and change directions constantly throughout their day. In essence, you continually face challenges in the front to back, side to side and rotational planes – these are the 3 planes of human movement.

4 – Train movements before muscles

As discussed earlier, traditional strength training exercises offer some benefits for combating sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass due to age,) building strength, and, to a lesser degree, for improving function. So it is difficult to conclude that these exercises are not functional at all.

Even arm curls are functional to a certain degree because you have to use your biceps to lift or pull objects. So it is better to view exercises along a functional continuum with some exercises having a more distant relationship to functional performance (e.g. less functional) and others having a closer relationship to functional performance (e.g. more functional).

** If you like this article, also don’t forget to check out Dr. Dan’s complete program, the Functional Fitness Solution, HERE **

5 – Stand up, Stay up

The majority of exercises should be performed in a standing or semi-standing position (e.g. kneeling, half- kneeling, lunge, etc.). Mobility and balance are best
improved in standing positions. The standing position utilizes many more muscle groups than sitting and is a more complex neuromuscular challenge that requires greater degrees of strength, proprioception, center of gravity control and postural stability.

In addition, it is much more difficult to give multi-planar challenges (see Principle #1) while seated. Therefore, seated exercises should be used minimally in a functional exercise routine.

6 – Complicated first, simple last

During the course of an exercise training session it is typical for energy and focus to wane as both muscle and mental fatigue set in. For mature clients this loss of energy and focus can create potentially dangerous scenarios and increase risk of injury (discussed further in Principle #7). The longer the session continues the more likelihood that attention and performance will wane. You should always be mindful of your level of fatigue and adjust your training session accordingly.

7 – Be safe to be successful

Getting off the traditional exercise machines in order to perform standing, dynamic, multi – dimensional exercises of increasing complexity brings with it an increase in risk of falling and injury. Therefore, it is your responsibility to take the appropriate measures to ensure safety while maximizing the potential for success.


Thanks again for sharing these great tips with us Dan!

Also, don’t forget – when you pick up a copy of Dr. Dan’s Functional Fitness Solution program this week, I am going to hook you up with a FREE copy of my Lifetime Kettlebell Fitness program.

Inside Lifetime Kettlebell Fitness, you’ll discover how to use kettlebells to lose weight, tone up, improve your posture, move freely and gain overall fitness.


– A three minute body weight and kettlebell dynamic warm up that’ll have you feeling great and ready for your workout faster than you ever thought possible … and a complete extended warm up for those times you’re in extra need of pre-workout prep
– Unique progressions for traditional kettlebell exercises that’ll help you master them in a whole new way – like the ‘face-away-from-wall kettlebell sumo deadlift’ and the ‘foot switch Turkish get-up’
– A complete workout system to take you from KB newb to HardStyle master
– Answers to common hang ups and solutions the majority of kettlebell training beginners have
– And much more!!

** VERY IMPORTANT – I will get a list from Dan of all the folks who buy his program through my link when the current promotion is over. NO NEED to send us your Clickbank reciept.

BUT … you MUST purchase his program through THIS LINK – or any other one in this email – to qualify for the bonus. Thanks! **

2 comments… add one
  • Ralph Parry

    I went to Functional Fitness Solution through the email links you provided. I purchased the ‘Never grow old fitness program’, but never did get a link for ‘Kettlebell Workout for Older Adults (50+)’. Did I miss something?
    My order nbr is FN3LEK2K. Pleahanksse reply. T

  • admin

    Hey Ralph –

    Thanks for your purchase!

    We sent out the Lifetime Kettlebell Fitness bonus to all customers of the Functional Fitness Solution program on Monday the 16th of June … maybe you missed it the first time around?

    In any case, I just forwarded the original email to the email you used here to leave your comment. Hope that helps, and let me know if you got it.


    – Forest

    PS – In the future, if you’d like to leave a message – if it pertains to purchase / customer service / etc. issues – using this contact form:


    Instead of leaving a comment on the blog, we’ll be able to get back with you faster. Thanks!

    – Forest

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