What Is Functional Training?
The term functional training is used a lot on the gym floor, between training buddies or over a post-workout catch up, but what does it actually mean?
It may sound like the new buzzword or a trendy fitness phase, but functional training is anything but and has been making its way into mainstream exercise techniques for the last ten years – and we think it’s here to stay. Functional training involves the use of exercises that mimic the same or similar movement patterns as everyday life activities, helping to make those activities easier and injury free.
Where does functional training come from?
Functional training originates from rehabilitation and it’s an approach used by physical and occupational therapists to retrain patients with movement disorders. By choosing exercises that mimic the same movement patterns of what patients did at home or at work, treatment can be used to help them return to their everyday lives or jobs after an injury or surgery.
Who is functional training for?
Functional training isn’t only for rehabilitation patients, we could all do with some help to make life activities easier!
Experts from the Mayo Clinic recently said, “chances are you don't live to exercise. For many people, exercise is a way to maintain or improve their quality of life and that's the focus of functional fitness.” Functional training challenges strength, balance, agility, range of motion and the use of core muscles. It can use both body weight and weighted exercises, making it a training style that can be adopted by all ages and all fitness levels because it’s easily adapted for individual goals and needs.
What type of exercises are functional?
Functional exercises include multi-directional movements – because everyday life is not always moving forwards and backwards, we also move side to side, up and down and with twists and turns. Moving in multi-directions and through rotational movement patterns not only helps to increase our range of motion, but also promotes good spine health and helps to develop core strength.
What are the fitness benefits of functional training?
Functional training includes multi-joint and multi-muscle exercises, because more often than not we use the whole body during daily activities rather than individual body parts only. Using more than one muscle group at a time during exercise challenges the cardiovascular system to work harder, increasing cardio fitness levels as well as promoting:
• Increased strength
• Increased flexibility
• Increased calorie burn
• Maximising workout efficiency
In a recent interview with Dailyburn, strength and conditioning specialist Tony Gentilcore said “for 90 percent of people, 90 percent of the time, total-body training is the way to go, resulting in a greater neuromuscular and cardiovascular challenge and potentially greater gains, as well.”
Some functional exercises you could try
If you’re looking to make everyday life easier while enjoying a whole range of fitness benefits, try incorporating some functional training moves into your workouts!
A few of our favourite functional exercises include:
• Step ups
• Medicine ball slams
• Goblet squats with a kettlebell
• Cable woodchops
• Dumbbell bent over rows
For a customised functional training approach that suits your individual health and fitness goals, make sure you chat to a Goodlife Fitness Professional.