Benefits of Functional Training
Functional training is an approach to fitness that involves training your body to perform activities of daily living. This means things like climbing stairs, carrying and loading groceries or lifting your grandchild. This type of training grew out of physical therapy and rehab training. With the end goal being functional independence. Functional training is widely used for anyone who wants to stay fit as they age or train for a specific task, like a firefighter or soldier.
So What Are The Benefits Of Functional Training?
Muscle Balance And Joint Stability
There are a variety of benefits from functional training. Starting with muscular balance and joint stability, resulting in a reduced risk for injury. Functional training will enhance your body’s natural ability to move freely. This is without restriction thanks to improved flexibility. If you experience joint pain, you should use functional movements. This is because they are proven to decrease the level of joint pain experienced. This is thanks to a focus on rehabing your joints and flexibility.
Stronger Stabilizer Muscles
Core Training is a type of functional training which more people are familiar with. Core training strengthens the muscles that support (and stabilize) three main areas:
- Your spine
- The skeletal system
- All the muscles that allow you to sit, stand, twist and turn.
Functional training works stabilizer muscles. Improving your balance, making you less prone to falls and injury. Stabilizer muscles (like your abs) help you stay balanced and aligned. Further more this training allows you to strengthen both your prime movers (major muscles) and their stabilizers to improve strength and function.
Improved Body Mechanics
One overlooked benefit of this type of training is the improvement of body mechanics. When your body is stronger and your muscles are trained to work together, you move better. Additionally, functional exercises improve body awareness, your mind body connection. When practicing functional training, proper form is important. Since functional exercises are selected to improve and strengthen movements of everyday life, it is important to include exercises that support better posture when sitting and standing, and include lifting, bending and twisting. When available, use resistance bands and dumbbells at home, or do bodyweight movements such as pushups, sit-ups, planks and squats.
Functional Training Exercises
Additionally there are seven basic movements that your body can perform. All the types of exercise you need are variations of these movements: Pull, Push, Squat, Lunge, Hinge, Rotation and Gait.
Examples of beneficial functional training exercises include:
- Pullups, underhand or overgrip (pull)
- Pushups, narrow, wide, elevated (push)
- Squats, barbell, bodyweight, single leg (squat)
- Lunges, forward, stationary, back (lunge)
- Hip hinges, kettlebell swings (hinge)
- Russian twist, wood chops (rotation)
- Walking, running, stair climbing (gait)
To conclude this type of training goes beyond training for vanity or appearance. You must train muscles that you do not see like your core muscles, stabilizers and accessories muscles. Think back to the number of people you know who hurt themselves performing small tasks like lifting groceries or moving a box or furniture. These injuries will be prevented by a few basic functional exercises performed at home or in the gym.