What is functional training and why you should start incorporating it into your workout routine today!
After being in athletics and the health and wellness field the past 9 years, one of the most common things I have seen is poor and inefficient movement in both athletes and adults. We train for aesthetics, to grow certain muscle groups, to lose weight, or train for a specific sport but forget one of the most important reasons to exercise- to improve our quality of life. As a personal trainer, I have seen the most amazing benefits from functional training, not only in my own workout routine, but in my clients as well! What’s even better is that functional training is for EVERYONE; the athlete, stay-at-home mom, senior, bodybuilder, the regular or not so regular gym-goer, you name it.
Functional training is a classification of exercises that involve training the body for the activities performed in daily life such as getting out of a chair or bathtub, kneeling down, getting in and out of your car, and carrying furniture. They use multiple muscle groups as opposed to one. When this type of training is executed properly, the benefits are endless— movements such as squats, push-ups, lunges, and planks are all good basic functional exercises to incorporate into your daily routine. They are the stepping-stones to accomplishing harder and more complex movements such as Pull-ups, Dumbbell snatches and thrusters, Turkish get-ups, and Deadlifts. Here are just a few reasons that functional training is absolutely necessary to start using in your workouts:
Helps Prevent Injury: By strengthening smaller muscles and stabilizing joints. Knee and ankle injuries are very common because a high majority of people have joints that cannot handle lateral and quick movements. When we strengthen the small stabilizer muscles in our knees and ankles we will notice a great difference in our ability to balance. For example, a unilateral movement such as a single-leg step-up not only forces the use of one limb but forces you to balance as you contract.
Improves mobility and flexibility: Functional training is exactly as it sounds- training for functionality of the body. It will help improve mobility and flexibility by forcing your body to release tension through stretching and contracting in your hips, knees, chest, shoulders, and core. This will also help increase your range of motion because you are stretching and exercising the muscle at the same time.
Stronger core and body posture: At the center of functional training is strengthening the core and with a stronger core will come stronger movements. Your “core” is not just a reference to your abdomen; it also includes your pelvic floor, internal and external obliques, erector spinae (back muscles), transverse abdominis, and your diaphragm to name a few. Training incorporates your entire body so it only makes sense to start at the center of it all. Exercises like Planks, Glute bridges, and Superman’s are just a few examples to help strengthen your entire core. In addition, Pilates and Yoga are great ways to switch up your routine and strengthen your posture and core.
It may not be written on the face of fitness but functional training will completely change the way you train and see exercise as a whole, I know it has for me. If you have more questions, I would be happy to answer them!
You’ve got this.