What Exactly is Functional Training?
Well, it originated in physical therapy then spread into sports/athletics and from there into gyms across the land. Today it’s a full-blown functional training revolution that’s transforming modern fitness. Here’s a rough definition that covers the bases:
Definition: Functional training uses typically standing multi-joint exercises to force the body to tap into internal balance and stabilization mechanisms (proprioception). This is done to increase overall structural joint mobility, the strength of smaller supportive muscle groups and to elevate neuromuscular control.
What Fitness Goals Does it Suit Best?
Right so there are three primary fitness goals: weight loss, muscle gain and enhanced performance. Let’s look at how functional training compliments each:
- Trimming: The more muscles you use during an exercise, the more calories you burn and the more challenging it is for your nervous system while maintaining good form. This is also true when it comes to building lean mass everywhere instead of just in the major muscle groups leading to higher background metabolism.
- Gaining: Functional training in general is going to burn less calories than pure cardio. Burning too many calories isn’t a good thing when serious hypertrophy is the goal. So, you can train your whole body at once, hit all the supportive muscles that help you during the heavy sets and stay trim without as high a risk of muscle cannibalization.
- Athletics: The wise coach makes his team take ballet or yoga classes. Why? Because there’s no better way to protect his players from injuries, and, make it so they can recuperate faster from the more common ones.
Functional Training Loves the Transverse Plane
Let’s expand on that last point a bit, because the fact is that millions of people suffer from long lasting injuries that happen in the transverse plane (twisting/diagonal). Something whizzes by your ankle in the woods and you immediately jerk your hips and twist to see what it is…boom. Ouch! Everyday twisting situations are the cause of a gargantuan amount of avoidable everyday injuries.
Functional training focuses on the hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, and elbows while placing heavy demand on the core. Now, most people spend the majority of their time in the other two planes: frontal (side to side) and sagittal (frontwards and backwards). So, training in the transverse plane is very challenging, especially when you’re on balance balls, disks, domes or wobble boards holding a pair of dumbbells.
Let’s Talk Exercises
Great idea! We’re going to try and cover the entire gauntlet to show the bigger picture of exercise potential when training for structural stability, balance and strength.
- Medicine Ball/Dumbbell Squats with Overhead Thrust
- Dumbbell Platform Step Ups with Shoulder Press
- Walking Sagittal & Transverse Dumbbell Lunges
- Standing Dumbbell T-Raises on One Foot
- Dumbbell Planks with Pushups & Row
- Chin-ups/Pull-ups with Knee Raises or Leg Lifts
That list could go on and on and on. It says a lot though, right? The dumbbells just add to the tension, but should be kept at light to moderate weight. If you have any questions or would like to hear more about functional training let us know. Cheers!