Functional training is a type of exercise that utilizes your natural. Everyday movements in order to maximize muscle activation and efficiency.
Functional exercises are often done with minimal equipment or none at all. Which makes them accessible to people who live an active lifestyle.
The goal of functional training is to develop the body’s ability to execute day-to-day tasks. More easily and reduce the risk of injury.
What Are Examples Of Functional Training?
Some examples of functional training are balance training, agility training, and strength training. It can help improve your overall functional ability and reduce your risk of injuries.
“Functional training is defined as exercises which are intended to prepare the body for functional activities, sports or everyday life. It is also known as functional movements.”(Ekren & Wilkin 2012)
“Although functional strength is discussed often in fitness circles, it is not always well understood. Many people feel that functional strength exists only when an individual performs functional activities using functional equipment (i.e., machines). However, functional movements can be performed with any type of training equipment; the important point is that functional movements involve contractions of muscles around fixed joints in opposition to gravity.”(Gorsuch et al 2006)
Functional training helps build up your abilities and make you stronger by doing various types of sports and functional movements.
Is Hiit A Functional Training?
There is much debate surrounding whether or not HIIT can be considered functional training. Proponents of HIIT claim that the high intensity and short duration of the workouts make them functional.
Because they mimic the intense bursts of activity that you might experience in real-life situations. Critics argue that HIIT does not necessarily train your body to function better in everyday activities. And that it can actually be harmful if done incorrectly.
What Are The Benefits Of Functional Training?
Functional strength is important not just for sports but also for functional activities in everyday life. It helps strengthen the muscles needed to perform functional activities, which may reduce your risk of injuries. Using functional fitness equipment or exercises means that you are no longer putting stress.
On only one joint or body part. So there is less chance of injury since many muscles will be involved in stabilizing the movement. And reducing the amount of stress put on smaller joints like wrists, shoulders etc.
One study comparing traditional weight lifting methods versus functional resistance training found that functional training decreased injuries by 47% due to better stabilization during activity (Hoffman 2003).
Another benefit of functional work is only a small part of the muscle or movement rather than being functional. And building complete body functions at once without putting too much stress on one joint or body part. For example, doing bicep curls. Will not help you do daily activities like pushing heavy doors open or carrying bags easier. But functional training such as balancing on an unstable surface will.
How Functional Training May Help Reduce Injuries During Functional Movements/Sports?
Functional fitness means that instead of isolating muscles functional training uses functional movements. More stabilizing muscles are recruited to perform the functional movement reducing the stress. Put on smaller joints like ankles, knees etc.
Functional strength is also important for functional activities in everyday life. Which may lead to injury if you are not strong enough or do not have enough functional abilities.
Having too much of just one type of muscle or ability may increase your chance of injury. Since one muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle can cause muscular imbalances which are the source of many injuries.(Kibler 2006).
For example, having a lot of hamstring strength might not be beneficial. If your quadriceps are not strong enough. So functional training can help prevent and treat muscular imbalances by building up balanced functional abilities.
What Functional Movements Or Functional Fitness Exercises Build Functional Strength?
Any exercise that involves functional movements will build functional strength. Weight lifting exercises meant to build muscles like squats, deadlifts, lunges etc. Are functionally using resistance training methods. Because they use multiple muscle groups at once to perform the movement compared to traditional isolation exercises. They focus on one muscle group at a time. (Gorsuch et al 2006).
Resistance equipment that is unstable like wobble boards, Bosu balls also use stabilizing muscles for balance which builds functional strength.
Many free weight workouts can be done with dumbbells instead of barbells. Or even hold your weights to build functional strength.
Resistance band exercises can be functional by using them for functional movements like pulling, pushing etc. Or attaching them to functional fitness equipment for resistance training.
Legs: weighted squats, lunges, split squats, step-ups
Chest: pushups from knees or ground
Back: cable row machine where you pull from your side rather than in front of you
Upper Body Pulling.
Cable row machine where you pull from behind you or a machine that has a seated row option and a back fly option with the cables crossed in an “x” pattern usually at chest height
Lower body pushing: leg press with feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly outwards instead of fully facing forward or hack squat machine
For functional fitness options on cardio machines, many functional trainers have functional fitness-specific settings on elliptical machines or stationary bikes.
For example using incline/decline for functional strength training exercises like squats or lunges. Holding the handles of a bike to do bicep curls instead of sitting with your arms straight trying to pedal up a hill etc. Which can strengthen smaller stabilizing muscles that are used during functional activities.
Upper body pushing: Functional trainer where you hold onto handles in front of you and push outwards rather than reaching forward or chest press machine
Lower body pulling: Functional trainer where you pull back towards you at an angle rather than forward usually leaning backwards slightly make sure your lower back is not arching and that your hips are tucked under to protect your lower back.
What Functional Fitness Equipment Would You Recommend For Functional Strength Training?
A functional trainer is a great option since it can help strengthen functional movements at home or in the gym. Depending on the functional trainer model. Clothes like Under Armour’s “Armour Bra”, .Compression shorts and pants and tight-fitting knee and elbow pads help provide support during functional fitness activities while still looking cute if strength training is an activity you do recreationally.
Resistance bands used by themselves or with free weights or machines for functional strength. Training exercises can be effective especially if you cannot afford any other types of strength training equipment yet. Want to start working out at home without any equipment.
Wobble boards, Bosu balls and strength fitness-specific cardio machines are great strength training exercises. It can be done even without a functional trainer. A functional trainer machine helps you workout on a more stable platform. It has a wide base of support compared to a Bosu ball or wobble board. So if those exercises cause problems for your ankles or knees then functional trainers may be better options.
However, some people have bad experiences with functional trainers too. So it really depends on each person as to what functional equipment is best for them.
What Functional Movements Should You Include In Your Overall Program?
Ideally at least 1/3 to half of all workouts should be functional strength training exercises. But the exact ratio will depend on the individual and the functional fitness goals they want to achieve.
1) Cable crossover machine
2) Tricep press down the machine
3) Pull up/chin up functional trainer with bodyweight for beginners and additional weight as your functional strength training progresses:
4) Reverse fly on a functional trainer:
5) Band resisted pushups: (place a resistance band around hands and perform pushups, can also do tricep extensions by holding the band in one hand at shoulder height and performing tricep extensions):
6) Side steps or shuffle lateral distance while holding a resistance band or tubing overhead. (Simulates rowing movement but with light functional weights added. Since you don’t need any functional weights when doing this functional strength training exercise):
7) Functional trainer functional fitness-specific cardio machine:
8) Jump rope functional trainer functional fitness-specific cardio machine. (Can also do functional strength training exercises like squats or lunges. While holding onto handles of jump rope functional trainer functional fitness-specific cardio machine):
9) Bosu Ball pushups: (pushups done on Bosu ball, can also do functional strength training exercises like single-leg squats or hip thrusts on Bosu ball). Also great for balance and core functional workouts! Make sure your hips are tucked under to protect your lower back during the movement. Can be made more difficult by placing hands-on medicine balls or stability discs.:
10) Romanian Deadlift.
With resistance band since these work similar functional movements in functional strength training exercises. Like squats but with functional weights added (they can also be called hip extensions). Can be done with a functional trainer, a resistance band around the feet and functional weight or without functional weight. Make sure to keep back straight when doing these functional strength training exercises to target gluteus muscles.:
11) Side lunge while holding resistance bands above the head. (Can also do side squat functional strength training exercises by performing a side squat on one leg. While the knee is at 90 degrees and then standing up; continue alternating sides each rep): 12) Cable machine functional fitness functional strength training exercise that simulates row movement:
13) Functional trainer functional fitness-specific cardio machine:
14) Medicine ball functional strength training exercise that simulates functional movement for clean and jerk functional strength training exercises:
15) Cable functional trainer functional fitness functional strength training exercise that simulates functional movement of overhead press:
16) Kettlebell functional strength training exercise with kettlebell or weight plate (can also be done without any weights, goblet squats):
17) Weighted jump rope functional trainer functional fitness specific cardio machine. (Can also do jumping jacks while holding resistance bands or tubing above head; cable crossover machine can be used simultaneously to target chest functional strength training exercises).
Functional training is a type of exercise that utilizes your natural movements in order to maximize muscle activation and efficiency. Examples of functional training are balance training, agility training, and strength training.
Functional strength is important not just for sports but also for functional activities in everyday life. It helps strengthen the muscles needed to perform functional activities, which may reduce your risk of injuries. Functional fitness means that instead of isolating muscles functional training uses functional movements. More stabilizing muscles are recruited to perform the functional movement reducing the stress.
Functional training is about more than just moving. It’s about making your body work the way it was meant to. And getting back in touch with its natural strength and agility. Some ways of doing functional training movements are easier than others. But they all offer benefits that can improve your performance on a variety of physical tasks.
By incorporating some or all these 17 best practices into your fitness routine. You will be able to get stronger, feel better and do what feels right for you! Which type did you like most? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll answer any questions that come my way.