What is Functional Training?
Functional training is a method of training and preparing the body to perform the activities of daily life more easily and with reduced risk of injury. It has it’s origins in rehabilitation and generally focuses on flexibility, balance and weight bearing activities targeting the core muscles of the abdomen and lower back.
What are the benefits?
Functional styles of training have become extremely popular in recent times. Most gyms now have functional ‘zones’ and many have specific group training programs. This popularity comes from the great benefits that this style of training provides which include:
- Low impact exercises that are perfect for all experience and fitness levels.
- The basic fundamentals of functional movements means that you’re training your body for the rigours of daily life. Your quality of life should improve as you are able to function more easily.
- Exercises have a large range of movement which results in improved flexibility and strength.
- Unlike some weight machines, functional exercises target multiple muscle groups in a balanced and natural way. All the required muscles for everyday functional movements are trained and strengthened together. This results is a more balanced development of your body and improves your body structure and posture.
- Whole of body training methods challenge the body more which works the cardiovascular system harder, improving fitness levels and increasing calorie burn.
- The concept of functional exercises came from rehabilitation. The focus on low impact, functional movements is perfect for people coming back from injury or managing joint pain.
- Training all the core muscles and multiple muscle groups involved in daily activities will make your body more resilient and less prone to injury.
What does a typical program include?
There are a huge range of exercises and programs that train the body in functional movements. Some of the common ones involve the use of kettlebells, battle ropes, fitness balls, sleds and steps. A session will typically train the whole body over a 30-45 minute period of high intensity exercises in a circuit based program. Many, and sometimes all, of the exercises will be based on your own body weight which reduces the chance of injury.
If you’re keen to learn about some functional exercises for beginners that you can try yourself, check out this great article.
How is it different from CrossFit Training?
CrossFit training is a regime that mixes gymnastics, aerobic exercise and weightlifting. Like a functional program, it is done in a time based, circuit style, high intensity program but has a greater emphasis on increasing strength. It is an incredibly tough form of training and can be more prone to injury than functional exercises due to the increased use of weights. Risk can often come with reward however and CrossFit can produce excellent results when done properly. CrossFit training programs should be performed with the guidance and supervision of an expert personal trainer.
Where do I find gyms that support Functional Training?
A huge number of gyms provide dedicated functional training zones and equipment. To find the ones closest to you, enter your address or suburb in the search box below. It’s so easy to suss out gyms that support functional training!