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Definition and Benefits of Functional Training

Definition of  Functional Training

As we touched upon earlier, a quick definition of Functional Training is simply training that makes every day tasks easier. We state this as ‘Train The Way You Move’. We feel that is the best way to sum up functional training.

Since all of us will move differently, functional training is very person specific. Depending on what activities you are involved in, different functional training exercises will be more appropriate than others.

Often times functional training goes hand in hand with sports training- incorporating moves that will help you run faster, jump higher, have better control of your balance, increase your core strength, or even develop a stronger golf swing.

Functional training spills over from the court and into everyday life as well. Instead of exploding up to dunk a basketball, maybe you need that power to hoist your child over your head day after day. Better balance will go far on a balance beam or trying to stay inbounds along the sideline, but it will also help you stay on your feet when you bend over to tie your shoe or step into the shower. With a stronger core comes better posture and reduced back pain, who doesn’t want that? Golf is golf, and just about everyone could use a stronger swing.

 

Examples of Functional Training

Functional training exercises aren’t going to be isolation exercises such as machine bicep curls or seated calf raises. Functional training moves are going to get multiple muscle groups coordinating together to challenge and engage your entire body.

With these big, compound moves, stabilizers and peripheral muscles are engaged. Yes you work out 1-2 main muscle groups, but there is a whole host of muscles, joints, and functions going on in the background.

Let’s take a lunge with a twist for example. The primary muscles worked are listed here. somewhat obvious, as these are where you ‘feel the burn’ during a lunge.

Primary:

  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves

But look at these additional benefits that are happening by adding the twist to this well known exercise:

Secondary:

  • Obliques and lower back strength
  • Flexibility of the hip flexor, lower back, knee, and ankle
  • Balance to remain upright

As you can see, this move is incorporating multiple muscles groups AND helping to enhance flexibility and balance, all at the same time. That’s the point of functional training, building strength for inside and outside of the gym.

Some other beneficial Functional Training Exercises:

  • Deadlifts - Increase lower body strength, flexibility, and balance; drilling in proper form to lift heavy objects
  • Hang Cleans - Develop explosive power to lift heavy objects using your core and not your back
  • Farmer’s Walk- hand, core, and leg strength; balance; up your ability to carry objects while moving
  • Bent Over Row- The next time you're in a bent over position and need to lift something up (child, groceries, cinder block, etc) you’ll know what to do to not hurt yourself

This is by no means an exclusive list, but examples of some exercises that highlight how the benefits will spill over into how you actually live your life.

Benefits of Functional Training

Incorporating Functional Training into your workout regimen will have many benefits outside of the gym. Functional training will lead to greater balance, flexibility, explosive power, and muscular endurance. One study found that incorporating functional training can lead to improvements in balance as much as 196%, 58% increase in strength, and a 30% reduction in joint pain when compared to fixed training (limited range isolation machines).

While those numbers certainly won’t hold true for everyone, functional training WILL give you results, if done correctly. You will find that doing everyday tasks will be easier. Your balance will increase. Your core will get stronger. You will have more explosive power. Your body will be more flexible. Whatever it is that you do it will become easier with functional training.

With all of these benefits one thing should be clear - it’s time to Train the Way You Move.

Happy Training!

Posted by: Vince

“You’ve always got one more in you”

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