You may have heard the term ‘functional training’ thrown around over the past few years, but what does it actually mean? Is it just another fitness buzzword, or is there something more to it?
At the core of functional training is the principle that working out should carry over into real life. It’s not just about changing the way you look, but rather getting stronger, fitter and more mobile.
Basically, functional training is about helping you move better.
Life is physically (and mentally) challenging, right? Changing your appearance won’t really change much in that regard.
Sure, being a bit slimmer might make you feel more confident. Losing a few inches off the waist and gaining some muscle and shape on your arms might feel great! But what good is that if you still feel weak, unfit, stiff, and lacking energy?
What if you could train in a way which not only helps you lose excess body fat, gain muscle and improve your overall health, but also build balance, coordination, strength, fitness, flexibility, endurance…and much more?
Here are our top 6 reasons why functional training rules…
Whether it’s playing with your kids, walking up the stairs, carrying the shopping, or exploring on holiday, life is going to feel much easier with functional training.
Your muscles will be stronger, your joints more mobile, and your whole body more physically able to move. Gardening will become less of a hard slog, and more of an enjoyable past-time. Playing that sport you gave up a few years ago due to aches and pains may even end up back on the table!
Being physically active in itself can reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis and dementia. However, the combination of strength, fitness, balance and flexibility work found in functional training gives an even greater boost than just hitting the treadmill at your local leisure centre.
One of my favourite elements of functional training are ‘unilateral’ movements. These are movements using one arm or leg rather than both.
There are numerous benefits to unilateral movements (a topic for a whole other article), one of which is forcing your body to improve balance and stability. This will translate into real-life balance and stability when carrying your kids, going up or down stairs, and when trying not to fall off boats.
If you hit one type of training hard (whether that’s running, weight training or anything else) you increase your risk of developing injuries and imbalances. Runners often find themselves with knee and hip injuries, for example.
Functional training incorporates such a variety of movement styles that your muscles, joints and other tissues are given the support and development they need to improve in a balanced way.
Runners will benefit from greater muscle strength around the knee joint, giving more stability. People looking for improved strength or muscle mass will benefit from the greater range of motion afforded by the stretching and mobility work in functional training.
These days, most jobs require an inordinate amount of desk-sitting. This leads to rounded shoulders and slouching, which can in turn cause all kinds of back pain. Driving can also lead to the same issue.
Other postural imbalances can be caused by often overlooked habits, such as carrying a bag on one shoulder, carrying a child on your hip, or locking your knees when standing.
Through a combination of strength development and flexibility work, functional training can help prevent or reverse these issues.
Functional training can be scaled to any ability level.
This means whether you are a seasoned gym rat, or completely new to the world of fitness, functional training would be perfect.
Workouts often include adaptations for higher and lower abilities and experiences, as well as most injuries. There are lower-impact versions of any movement, as well as the potential to reduce or increase intensity where appropriate.
Functional training almost always includes coaching, so rather than being left alone to flounder like you are in most gyms, you have a professional helping you every step of the way.
If you’re looking for a fun, varied and effective way to train, then I definitely suggest giving functional training a try. Look for a functional training facility in your local area, and get in touch with any questions you have.
If you’re in the South Hams then you are super-lucky, as we are right on your doorstep…
We are currently looking for some awesome new folks for our 6-week Transformation Challenge, fancy finding out more? Click here!