If you follow trends in the fitness industry I am sure you have heard of the term “functional training”; however, there seems to be a misunderstanding around the purpose and benefits related to performing a strength program incorporating functional exercises. Traditionally a weight training program involves performing exercises that only target one or two muscles at a time, but functional training exercises work multiple muscle groups or body parts with each movement or exercise. I would define functional training as exercises that improve strength and efficiency while performing movements directly related to activities of daily living or sport movements. This form of training is commonly used in the sports conditioning world in order to allow athletes to strengthen their muscles while performing movements and exercises directly related to the movements they perform in their sport. This even comes down to position specific movements, as different positions in most sports require athletes to be stronger in different planes of motion in order to excel. Many functional training programs challenge target muscles through different planes of motion, which not only strengthen the target muscles, but also the core and stabilizer muscles supporting the body through these different movements.
A great way to determine the kind of functional exercises you should add to your workout routine is to write down the physical demands of your daily activities. Even if you just do housework, sit at a computer all day, or cook frequently? Do you find you have low back or neck pain after a day of performing your daily activities? This means you should be strengthening your body more “functionally” in order to strengthen your muscles to be able to better support your body through daily duties. Sit down and think of the majority of the movements or activities you perform during the day and create exercises more related to these daily physical demands. If you are not able to create exercises for yourself, see a personal trainer for at least one session for advice and a training program that is more functionally sound for your specific daily movements. They will be able to provide you with exercises that can be performed in a gym, at home, or even at your desk during a work day.
Here are some of the benefits related to functional training:
1. Increase total body strength
2. Improve balance
3. Improve endurance
4. Improve range of motion
5. Improve core and joint stabilization
6. Teaching the body to use all muscle groups in conjuction
with each other for more efficient movements
It is very important to ensure you are performing functional training exercises with correct form, because if these exercises are not performed properly they could result in injury.
For more information about functional training exercises to best suit you email: Michelle@CORE-Condition.com
Michelle Roots BA Kin, CSCS, PES