08 Nov 2019
The term ‘functional training’ has been thrown around a lot in the industry in recent years, and its popularity only seems to rise.
But while it may sound like a buzzword, functional training has solidified its place as more than just the latest fitness trend – and it’s not just gym junkies and fitness fanatics who are enjoying the benefits.
So, what is functional training, and what kind of exercises are considered ‘functional’? We take a look at functional training, its benefits and some functional exercises you can incorporate into your workouts.
Functional training stems from rehabilitation, where physical and occupational therapists rehabilitate people with movement disorders. These professionals use exercises that mimic the movements patients performed at home or work in order to help them return to their normal lives or jobs following an injury or surgery.
Similarly, functional fitness training uses movements performed in our everyday lives to make day-to-day activities easier, reduce the risk of injury and improve quality of life. It’s designed to increase strength, balance, flexibility and coordination to improve the way your body functions every day – whether it’s squatting down to lift something, getting in and out of a chair or pushing a heavy door open.
Functional training can benefit everyone – from professional athletes to people in desk jobs and even seniors. It’s a great style for all ages and fitness levels because it can be easily modified for different goals and needs.
If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, you might like to start with bodyweight exercises and add weights when you’re ready for a challenge.
You should consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Your goals should determine the functional exercises you perform. For example, a professional tennis player might aim to improve their range of motion for a better swing, while a sprinter might aim to build strength and balance for a faster drive out of the starting blocks.
For general fitness training, functional exercises are based on everyday movements to prepare the body to function better in everyday tasks. For example, a squat is considered a functional exercise because it works the muscles you use when you get in and out of a chair. Lunges are functional because they train the muscles used in vacuuming and mowing the lawn.
This type of training doesn’t target individual body parts – it involves multiple muscles and joints as a whole-body activity.
Some functional exercises include:
One-arm kettlebell snatches
Functional exercises often incorporate weights, kettlebells, fitness balls and resistance bands and can be done at home or in the gym.
By including multi-joint and multi-muscle exercises that mimic everyday movements, functional training provides benefits such as:
Increased ease of everyday activities
Reduced risk of injury when performing everyday activities
Increased strength, flexibility and coordination
Can be easily modified to suit different fitness levels and goals.
Looking at just these few functional training benefits, it’s easy to see why this training style has taken the industry by storm.
If you’d like to learn more about popular training styles, check out our article on CrossFit training.
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