What is functional training and what are the benefits?
“Functional training, you say? Got to be another fitness fad, right?” Nope. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Functional fitness focuses on exercises and movements that mirror your day to day activities, helping you function more effectively (clues in the name!). Think compound exercises, such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. These types of exercises mirror everyday movements, whether it’s getting up from your chair, pushing open a door or squatting down to pick up that snack you’ve just dropped by accident (10 second rule ‘n’ all that).
Functional training engages multiple muscle groups in one movement and focuses on movements that can be adapted to fit into your everyday life, helping to improve your mobility and flexibility.
So, now we’ve cleared that up, we’re sure you’re dying to know the benefits of this popular style of training? Look no further!
It utilises multiple muscles at the same time
Now, we’re a big fan of a leg day. In fact, most of us tend to isolate our training sessions, focusing on one area each session. But, why do we do this when, in everyday life, we use most of our muscles and body parts in pretty much most movements we do?! Crazy, right? Functional training utilises multiple muscles at the same time, mirroring our day to day movements. This makes these movements easier, as our bodies become more and more familiar with them and we start to use the correct form and techniques that we use during training in real life situations. It may not seem like a big deal but, in the long run, you’ll protect yourself from injury and also ensure your body is equipped to handle everyday movements.
It can increase flexibility and mobility
As you know by now, typical functional exercises incorporate a number of muscles and body parts at the same time, which requires a certain amount of flexibility and mobility. For example, when you perform a squat, you may think you’re just targeting your peach, but you’re actually working the quads, hamstrings, calves, lower-back and even your abs! Regularly performing squats, and other functional exercises, will help improve your mobility and develop your flexibility.
It can help prevent injuries
This style of training actually originates from techniques used to rehabilitate people after injuries, making it a great option if you’ve been previously injured or would rather focus on low impact exercise, but with big benefits. As you’re training your entire body during functional training, you’re less likely to strain an isolated area than if you single out a certain body part each session and you can evenly distribute any stress rather than one body part taking the hit. As functional training mimics everyday movements, you’re less likely to injure yourself as your body is familiar with the range of movement.
It can increase coordination, balance and agility
This style of training is also renowned for helping to improve coordination, balance and agility, as it requires you to use your own body weight to perform various ranges of movement. These skills are also a must for team sports such as football, rugby and tennis. Functional training can also benefit you as you age – as we grow older, these three abilities weaken; our balance won’t be what it used to be, nor our agility and coordination. Functional exercises can help you stay fit help your body retain it’s capabilities.