What is functional training?
Functional training is for sportspeople and anyone interested in increased health and wellbeing. Functional training has its origins in rehabilitation. Physical therapists developed exercises that mimicked patients’ natural movements when at home or work in order to speed patients’ recovery after an injury or surgery. In this approach, individual training programs respond to the particular pressures individuals’ daily lives:
- Where a patient’s job requires repeated heavy lifting, rehabilitation targets heavy lifting.
- Where a patient’s day revolves around parenting young children, rehabilitation targets moderate lifting and endurance.
- Where a patient’s physical activity includes running marathons, rehabilitation targets endurance.
How to train functionally
Functional training emphasises weight-bearing activities targeted at strengthening the core muscles of the abdomen and lower back. In contrast to weight-training machines that may target and isolate specific muscles using movements alien to the movements of one’s regular activity, functional training adapts and develops exercises which can be integrated organically into individuals’ daily movements and activities.
Why train functionally?
Functional training may lead to better muscular balance and joint stability, which can help to reduce the frequency of injury in sport and daily activity. The benefits functional fitness are associated with the use of exercises that emphasises the body’s natural ability to move in three anatomical planes of motion. In comparison, though machines can be safer to use than free weights or kettlebells, they restrict movements to a single plane of motion, which is an unnatural form of movement for the body and may lead to faulty movement patterns or injury. Under the supervision of a qualified personal trainer, however, individuals can learn to use free weights and kettlebells in a safe and healthful way.
Functional training equipment
- Bulgarian bag
- medicine ball
- TRX (suspension training)
- stability ball
- resistance bands
- Olympic lifting
- body weight
Five pillars of functional fitness
- free weights and free movement
- strength through technique
- ability before aesthetics
- nutrition and recovery
- increased quality of life