While at the gym, you may have heard the term functional training and probably wondered what it meant. In simple terms, a functional training workout is a combination of exercises that strengthens our bodies for daily activities and tasks while minimizing the risk of or preventing common injuries. It originated in the rehabilitation field where physical therapists designed actual exercises similar to your day to day movements at home or work.
Originally, the exercises were used as part of post-surgery therapy but recently, they’ve been incorporated into all kinds of fitness programs.
Who Can Use Functional Training Workouts?
Almost anyone can use this type of training – be it a mother, an athlete, golfer or retiree. The repetitive activities we do daily can bring injuries such as neck stiffness and lower back pain. Tasks such as lifting laundry, loading or unloading groceries, and swinging a golf club, require mobility, core strength, and balance that most people don’t have.
Doing these activities repetitively can bring problems if you’re not training properly. Even though your legs and arms may be strong, you may still strain your back when unloading groceries due to lack of or inadequate functional strength. You can read more here.
Functional training uses several muscle groups in an integrated manner. This integration brings lots of benefits. Instead of isolating muscle groups individually, your body works as a whole, which is how we move while performing our daily tasks. For instance, while using an unstable surface or a stability ball to exercise, you utilize deep muscles from your pelvis, back, hips, and abdominal area. This leads to the strengthening of more muscles and the burning of more calories.
Elements of Functional Training Workouts
Elements of these workouts are core training, balance, mobility, and sport-specific training. Sport-specific training is designed to meet the demands and needs of a particular sport, and the participant’s individual challenges. To improve balance, a person exercises on an unstable surface or does it while balancing on one foot.
Core training is more than your abdominal area; it includes your abdominals, hips, and glute muscles. By strengthening your core, you’ll be able to handle daily tasks that involve lowering, lifting, bending, and rotating.
Examples of actual movements are squats, push-ups, lateral lunges, single-leg deadlifts, etc.
If you have been wondering what functional training involves, I hope this information has given you an idea. Incorporate it into your life and gain all the fitness benefits that come with it. Remember, if you’re a beginner, start gradually and move to high-intensity workouts as your body adapts.