What is Functional Training?
To fully understand what functional training is and how it is used in a fitness environment, we first need to understand exactly what the word functional means.
According to the Macmillan Dictionary functional is defined as:
- operating in the correct way
- relating to the purpose or function of something
- helping something to operate well or correctly
So we can take from this that functional training applies to improving how things function. And if we apply it to fitness, in simple terms it’s improving how the body functions.
On a day to day basis we use functional movement patterns such as pushing, rotating, sitting, hinging, carrying, walking, jumping and so on. As an example, some of the activities involved would be, playing basketball with the kids, carrying groceries, walking to work and going for a swim. These are all natural movements that the muscles in your body carry out hundreds of times a day. It therefore makes sense to train in a way that will improve all of these functional components.
Why is functional training important?
The goal of functional training is to help you move, look and feel fantastic by using multi-joints and multi-muscle exercises. Core strength and stability is another great result of functional training, because when you train you use a variety of muscles at the same time from the upper and lower body, such as elbows, spine, ankles and knees.
This type of training, properly applied, can make everyday activities easier, reduce your risk of injury and improve your quality of life.
How is functional training applied?
The functional movements you make every day are unpredictable and varied. Therefore your functional training should also be varied and practical.
Functional training is often incorporated into bootcamp style classes or group fitness classes. Equipment such as swiss balls, steps, balance discs, medicine balls, weights and resistance ropes are often used in functional training workouts.
Functional training is a holistic way of training your body, and improving your quality of life. It will limit the possibility of future injuries as it’s improving the whole body in everyday activities.
In summary, training to improve specific parts of the body (i.e. body building) will indeed improve the look of your body but it won’t improve the functionality of it. You need to evaluate your specific needs and exercise accordingly.