If you are even remotely interested in fitness, you have probably heard of the term Functional Training. And you have probably heard different definitions or opinions on what functional training is. It is often mistaken as a series of complex and explosive movements, which without some previous training or preparation can leave you injured and not very functional. Simply put, functional training is a series of simple full body movements that will mimic you every day activities, movements like pushing, pulling, twisting, squatting. Here are just a few benefits of functional training and how to do it.
Functional vs Strength training
Opposed to usual strength training, functional training utilizes your body in a different way. Strength training isolates individual muscles or smaller groups of muscles, usually for hypertrophy. Whereas functional training works the body in a more complex way and uses full body movements. Whether it is your everyday life or you are an athlete, your nervous utilizes whole body movements, not just a single biceps curl. And functional training teaches your body exactly that, how to work as one unit.
Functional training will bring you coordination that will translate to your life or to a sport that you are active in, strength training will make you look aesthetically great. But the strength that bodybuilders develop through strength training doesn’t really translate to your daily activities. But there is no reason to choose one of these methods, incorporate both methods into your workouts for best results.
How can functional training help?
In plain language, functional training will help you reach your goal. Hypothetically speaking if you were a power lifter whose goal was to squat 500 pounds, your training would focus around this exercise. Your workouts would consist of more sets of squats, and heavier workload in order to put your body and nervous system under stress so it can adapt properly.
On the other hand if you were a sprinter, the center of your workout sessions would be exactly that, sprinting. Endurance work will be incorporated into your routine, and you would use exercises that engage fast twitch muscles, explosive exercises like cleans, box jumps and similar. Whatever your goal is, functional training is supposed to help you reach it. Workouts will be specifically designed around your goal and allow you to perform better in whatever you are doing.
Work capacity is basically the volume of work (or in this case training) that your body can endure, without injury and recover after the workout. Having high work capacity means you can push yourself further from the beginning of your training. Your body will be more tolerable to stress and allow you to work (or train) harder, longer and be generally stronger.
Properly using functional training will ensure steady increase and progress in your work capacity. Try adding one repetition more on every set of certain exercises and in a week or two you will be able to do an extra set. If you are struggling with the intensity of your workouts try using fitness supplements, use them as an addition to your meals while training to help you improve. Consider adding cardio focused exercises to your routine and incorporate it with your strength training.
Now that you know what functional training is, try using it to help you improve. Whether you are striving for increased strength, or better athletic performance. Or if you need help with preventing injuries in sports and everyday life, functional training is the way to go.