Functional training is a form of training that places great value on natural movements which also occur in the daily life of the trainee or which have a positive impact on the daily routine of the trainee if trained. It is irrelevant, here, whether the trainee trains for a specific sport or they just want to be able to complete daily chores better like carrying home the groceries.
In other words: functional training is suitable for everybody, whether it is beginners or professional athletes. But why is that so?
How exactly does functional training work?
There are probably only a handful of people who have never been to a gym and most of you know how gyms typically look from inside: behind the crosstrainers and stationary bikes there are strings of machines that are targeted at certain muscles. You can sit down on them, adjust the levers, and choose a weight. Then you move the respective body part while the machine guides your movement.
This form of training is certainly justified – even though we are already sitting way too much in our jobs nowadays and, thus, sitting shouldn’t also be part of our workouts. You simply have to remember where these machines come from. They were designed for bodybuilding, to target and sculpt isolated muscles until they match a certain aesthetic ideal. Functional training, however, works in a completely different way. No machines are needed (or at least very few), you mostly work with your own bodyweight and a few free weights.
Functional training doesn’t train muslces in isolation but rather in compounds with other neighboring muscles. The advantages are apparent: in other sports or in your daily life muscles are never used in isolation. When I jump I not only use my thighs but also my hip, my calves, my ankles, and my core. At least. When I train muscles in compounds I also train my intra and inter muscular coordination. This means, I improve the interplay of the muscles and significantly improve my physical feeling.
Holistic training for better performance
One disadvantage of isolation training is the absence of this holistic approach. Dysbalances between body parts can occur when the trainee focuses too much on one muscle and neglects another. The problem with dysbalances is that the generated power cannot travel through the body as effecitvely as possible. If I wanted to throw an object as far as possible I have to generate power already in my legs which is transported over my core to the throwing arm. If my core, however, is not properly trained the chain of strength doesn’t work optimally and power is lost on its way from my legs to my arm. Functional training, in contrast, explicitly uses these chains of strength in training, it trains movements rather than muscles.
Human motion in the center
Let’s look at the basic task of lifting a case of water (or a drink of your choice). In order to lift the weight in a safe, healthy, and reliable way I have to activate the whole backside of my body, my shoulders, and my core all in a coordinated motion. So when you are training several muscles in compounds it is not only more effective, it has real world areas of application. And with a holistic training I immediately feel the improvements I make in my daily life.
Where does functional training come from?
Functional training has its roots in physical therapy. In this field it is fundamental to slowly lead the patients back towards everyday loads both in regards to strength and when it comes to the locomotory sequence. Strength, balance, joint mobility and stability are the focus of training. Since functional training is adjustable so well, it is also suitable for other target groups.
Is functional training suitable for everyone?
The term functional training might sound technical at first. It is, however, suitable for everyone and that has several reasons:
- It is a holistic training that trains movements. In our modern lifes, we already have to sit way too long, therefore we shouldn’t also be sitting during our workouts. A training that forms an optimal balance to our daily life is far superior.
- Functional training is effective. In relatively short amounts of time, no more than 30 to 45 minutes, you can train your whole body. In short, yet intensive training intervals you can not only improve your strength but also your endurance and cardiovascular system.
- You don’t need a lot of equipment. A suspension trainer is often enough to strengthen all major muscle groups. A suspension trainer lets you train almost anywhere and you don’t have to stuff your home with mountains equipment. With a suspension trainer or other equipment made by aerobis you can easily train outdoors or take it with you on vacation.
- Intensity can be adjusted individually. If you only want to train with your own bodyweight, for example, you can use a suspension trainer to progressively adjust the resistance of every exercise according to your personal performance level.
In conclusion, functional training is a form of training that is the perfect counterpart to our modern lifestyles. It doesn’t only present a welcomed compensation to the hours of sitting, it also keeps us from forgetting all the basic natural movements, doesn’t require a lot of time, and gives us a noticeably better perception of our own bodies and perceptible improvements in our daily life.
Functional training equipment
In general, you need only a few pieces of euqipment for functional training. You own bodyweight is often sufficient for most exercises. Many exercises, however, are difficult to adjust in intensity and several muscle groups can only be trained with certain equipment. The universal funtional training equipment is a suspension trainer. It allows for infinitely variable adjustment of difficulty in every exercise and offers more and more comfortable exercise variations than strict bodyweight training without equipment. Depending on what you are training for, general fitness or a certain sport, your training equipment might consist of other equipment. No matter what equipment you need for your functional training you will find high-quality equipment in the aerobis Shop.