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Functional training prepares the body for everyday activity. This specific type of training involves a variety of weight bearing activities focused on core muscles of the abdomen and lower back. Functional training revolves around exercises that help you perform daily activities with ease, ultimately making you less prone to injuries.
Functional strength training should also be thought of in terms of range of movement. Our days are filled with motion; walking, lifting, bending—even standing. These activities involve the three cardinal planes of movement: sagital, frontal and transverse. In functional training, we don’t just work on training one specific movement but all the muscles involved in the movement. That’s because the brain thinks in terms of complete motions.
The benefits of functional training
The goal of functional training is to use the strength increase achieved in one movement to improve the performance of another, ultimately benefiting the entire neuromuscular system.
Functional training can lead to better balance and stability of the joints. Weight training machines are generally safe to use but restrict movements to a single plane of motion, which is not the natural way the body moves and can lead to injury when done in repetition.
You shouldn't rely on any single group of exercises to get optimum results. Functional strength training should be considered a supplement to traditional strength training, not a replacement.
Functional training in sports
Strength training is not the same as bodybuilding. Some avoid strength training because they don’t want to “bulk up,” and fear it may affect their endurance. But that’s not the purpose of strength training, which—when done properly—can benefit any athlete.
The use of resistance training machines is limited in functional training. The fixed patterns are not like our natural body movements, and focus on single muscle groups rather than engaging the stabilizers and peripheral muscles.
Some equipment used in functional training includes:
• Cable machines
• Medicine balls
• Physioballs (also called Swiss balls or exercise balls)
• Whole Body Vibration equipment (also called WBV or Acceleration Training)
• Suspension system (TRX)
Components of a functional exercise program
A truly effective functional exercise program is one designed especially for you by a qualified trainer at The Pilates Garden and Personal Training Studio. When done properly, functional strength training adds variety and training benefits.
A good program addresses the following fundamentals:
• It must be sport specific
• It should include a variety of exercises
• It should focus on increased core stability
• It should be progressive, steadily increasing strength from workout to workout.