06 Aug 2019
What is it?
Functional training simply means to train our bodies to do the everyday activities in our lives better.
This type of training should focus on these movements which could be anything from picking up the shopping or sitting in a chair or even house work and make them easier for you to perform. This is done by developing such areas as flexibility, strength, agility, co-ordination and dynamic strength to make this possible.
What are the benefits?
Better muscular balance and joint stability
Decrease the number of injuries sustained in an individual's performance in a sport or daily life.
Improve the body's natural ability to move in six degrees of freedom.
Why functional training?
Think of it as training for every movement, not just a specific muscle. For example - when you jump, you’re not just using your leg muscles. The key to effective functional fitness training is simulating the actual activity that you’re training to improve. There should be a focus on doing similar types of contraction (eccentric, concentric, or isometric), speed, range of motion, and level of coordination.
The closer the exercise is to the actual activity, the more effective the training. For example if you spend a lot of time on a bike, functional training would include exercises that simulate the movements and strengthen the muscles used in biking.
Is it for everyone?
The simple answer is yes!
It helps build greater improvements in strength, endurance, agility, balance, and flexibility, so that we are able to maintain activities of daily living.
What do I consider for clients?
What your functional fitness goals may be, and tailor your functional training to your level of fitness and what type of activities your body does each day.
Ensure that exercises are varied and can train flexibility, strength, balance, coordination, power, and endurance.
Include movements on multiple planes, and use your body weight and equipment such as free weights and resistance bands, instead of machines.
Examples of functional exercises
Overhead holds and carries: The purpose is to expose any core and hip instabilities, and really work to increase oblique strength. The benefit of this is that it will help to protect the spine from any rotational forces and increase core stability.
Lunges: Offers less loading through the spine which is a great option for people with back problems. They also force you to engage and support your core as you have to keep your torso upright and help isolate and engage your glutes to overcome overactive hip flexors and spinal erectors.