What is “Functional Training”?

Ever heard of it? Not sure what it’s all about? I’m here to set the record straight and give you some basic information on how it can help you reach your fitness goals!

Functional Training can be defined as any training modality that serves the purpose for which it was intended.

It is training aimed at improving functional capacity – that is; the ability to perform daily tasks, occupational or sports specific tasks, simple and/or complex motor activities with ease, efficiency, strength and control.

Functional Training has its origins from rehabilitation exercise. Physical therapists developed exercises that mimicked what patients did at home or work in order to return to their lives or jobs after an injury or surgery. So if a person’s job required repeatedly heavy lifting, rehab would be targeted towards helping them achieve that. Programs are designed after careful consideration of the patient’s condition, what he or she would like to achieve, and ensuring goals of treatment are realistic and achievable.

Such training mostly involves activities targeted at the core muscles (abdominal and obliques), and how you can use that strength to drive other movements e.g. Pushing or Pulling. It also helps in developing proprioceptive awareness (coordination) which challenges your body to become more conscious of where it is in space.

An example of good equipment to use for functional training is cable machines. They allow a person to recruit all major muscle groups while moving in multiple planes. Cable machines also provide a smooth, continuous action which reduces the need for momentum to start repetitions, provide a constant tension on the muscle, peak-contraction is possible at the top of each rep, a safe means of performing negative repetitions, and a variety of attachments that allow great flexibility in the exercises performed and body parts targeted.

As a trainer, I love functional training! IT allows me to give more exciting movements to my clients as well as knowing that they are gaining a whole range of benefits. If you haven’t incorporated some type of functional training into your workout, I would suggest you do so as soon as possible!


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