Functional training got its start not in a gym but in a hospital. The idea of functional training was meant to help people recover from injury. But what is functional training as we know it today? After all, people are using functional training in all types of gyms and hospitals around the world. Thanks in no small part to fitness professionals who saw something in physical rehabilitation exercises that could benefit everyone. No injury required.
There are specific exercises that have been developed to help patients with daily living. These patients have all suffered some sort of bodily injury that requires them to attend physical therapy. However, any physical activity can qualify as a workout of some sort. That leads us to the question, what is functional training? You can grow muscle and strengthen your core with functional training. But there is so much more to functional training than just that.
The entire goal of functional training is to improve your ability to function. You may not realize it but every single day you use some sort of exercises to complete tasks. But you use more than just one muscle to carry groceries in from the car. That is why so many fitness experts recommend functional training. Instead of training just one muscle at a time, you will be training a group of muscles. That’s not to say that functional training can’t be used for specific muscles. Just that you will be using more than one muscle in each exercise.
What is functional training? Another part of the answer lies in the movements themselves. The goal of a great functional training exercise is to mimic everyday movements as closely as possible. In fact, the closer your exercise mimics the daily movement the better the workout will be. Take a biker for instance. A biker who rides bicycles often will want to exercise all of the muscles used while biking. That person will not want to focus on quads as quads are only part of the equation. But there are different types of functional training like high-intensity and low-intensity functional training exercises.
No one who is not prepared should do any type of high-intensity workout from the beginning. High-intensity means just that, very intense workouts. People who are just starting their fitness journey should start low and slow before jumping to intense workouts. But what is functional training mixed with high-intensity? High-intensity workouts are workouts that are bursts of energy with few rest periods. That means you will not slow down and could cause injury if you’re not prepared. Think HIIT workouts but with exercises that focus on the entire body, including your core.
Low-intensity training is usually used for beginners, the elderly, and the injured. This is a great place to start if this is your first venture into fitness. This isn’t to say that low-intensity functional training is not productive. In fact, there was a study done by the University of Wi-La Crosse. There were two groups of people, those who switched to functional training and those who kept a normal workout routine. Those who switched to functional training saw greater improvements in endurance, agility, strength, balance, and flexibility.
There are many different exercises that help answer the question, what is functional training? You may be surprised to learn that many of the exercises are ones you do every week. Pull-ups, chin-ups, planks, medicine ball twists, shoulder press, and burpees are just a few functional training exercises. We continue to find new ways to grow the number of exercises. That is why functional training has become so popular. You focus on muscle groups instead of individual muscles.