Functional training is a training methodology that focuses on natural movement patterns and the use of compound movements. It is used by athletes, bodybuilders, and martial artists to improve performance by increasing strength, power, and endurance. Functional training uses everyday movements as opposed to isolation exercises which focus on one muscle group at a time.
What is Functional Training?
Functional training is training that mimics real life. If you're doing a squat and then jumping off a box, this would be considered functional because it's similar to the movements required in day-to-day living.
How Do I Program Functional Training?
In order to program your own functional training workout program, it's important to understand what each muscle group does when performing the exercise you're doing. For example, if you're doing squats, think about what muscles are working during this movement: quadriceps (front of thigh), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back of thigh), and calves (lower leg). Programming functional training exercises are an important part of any fitness regimen. Here are some tips for how to program functional training into your workouts:Choose Your Exercises WiselyThe best way to program functional training exercises is to choose exercises that will challenge your entire body in different ways. You want to include exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously so that you can get the most out of each workout session while avoiding injury. For example, squats use several different muscle groups at once (hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes) while pushing movements like push-ups and bench presses hit multiple muscles at once as well (chest, triceps, shoulders).Include full-body movements and exercises within each training sessionAs you might have gathered from the name, functional training is about improving your ability to do everyday tasks.One way to do this is by including full-body movements in each training session. This means that you're performing exercises that use a lot of muscle groups rather than individual muscles. Examples include squats, lunges, push-ups, and pull-ups.Full-body movements are more functional than single-joint exercises because they require more coordination (which improves balance) and force your body to work together as a unit—the way it would when performing everyday activities or sports.Focus on the quality of movement, not the quantity of load used.It’s better to use a lighter weight and get the movement right than it is to use a heavier weight and risk injury because you didn’t move properly.
Train both sides of the body equallyWhen training for functional fitness, it’s important to remember that you are training your entire body and not just one side. If you have an imbalance in strength or control, it can be corrected by doing more exercises that focus on the weaker side of the body. This includes exercises such as step-ups that train both legs together or using a band to assist with a squat so you can focus on keeping good form while still challenging yourself.You should also try incorporating unilateral movements into your routine when possible. These types of lifts will help improve coordination between the two sides of the body without making them overly stressed out at once.Vary your exercises, planes, and patterns of motion
- Engage your core muscles so that you maintain proper posture throughout all of your movements (this will help protect your lower back).
- Perform each repetition with good form, doing the exercise through its full range of motion (ROM) without compromising technique or speed. This means that if you are performing bicep curls, don't just do half reps; do them in their entirety with proper form from start to finish!
- If a particular movement feels awkward or uncomfortable, then stop doing it until it feels more natural before attempting again!
This is the most important principle of training - and it's one that many people overlook. When you perform an exercise in a very similar plane of motion, your body adapts to that specific pattern, and it becomes much more difficult to progress with your strength-building goals.
Multi-planar training: To ensure you're challenging yourself in multiple planes of motion, try exercises like squats, Bulgarian split squats, or lunges with a barbell or dumbbells as well as the lateral band walks/lateral walks.
Variety in patterns of motion: It's also important to vary the way you move through space. Even though a pushup is classified as a horizontal pushing exercise, just about every muscle in your upper body has to work hard during the movement because your body is constantly changing angles throughout the rep range (eccentric phase -> concentric phase -> eccentric phase).
Your training routine should mimic real life as much as possible
Functional training is training that mimics real life as much as possible. This means you'll do things like squat and sit, lunge and push, pull and twist, or rotate in all planes of motion (forward, backward, side-to-side). It also means that your routine should include movements that involve multiple patterns of motion. For example, You might go from a standing position to a kneeling position on one side, move from the floor to an elevated surface like a plyo box or bench, or move from one end of a barbell—like front squats—to another—like back squats.
The more functional your routine is (and the more tools you use), the better off you'll be when it comes time for everyday activities outside the gym.
Functional training is all about preparing your body for the real world and keeping it active throughout life. You don't have to be young and fit to benefit from this type of training—whether you're an athlete looking to improve your performance on the field or just someone who wants to feel better in their everyday life, functional fitness training can help! By incorporating full-body movements into each session and focusing on quality over quantity when it comes time for reps, you'll be able to make positive changes to your body.