If you're part of the fitness world, at some point you're likely to hear the subject of functional training bought up. While it's a term that is used a lot, many people don't fully understand what it means, or the ways in which an individual could go about gaining functional fitness. In short, functional training employs the use of various types of fitness equipment and exercises to train the body for the sort of tasks it encounters every day.
What is Functional Training?
The idea behind functional training is to prepare the body for the rigors of everyday life. A good functional fitness routine will work on strength, balance and it will develop the individual's cardiovascular health. In practice, these goals are achieved by performing exercises that simulate motions that would be used in the daily life of an individual.
Strength training is one of the key elements of building functional fitness. However, building functional strength is different from conventional weightlifting. A weightlifter usually aims to isolate the muscle group that they want to work on. This can be good for a person that is trying to build a sculpted and toned physique, but your muscles do not work in isolation in the real world. To build functional strength, you have to perform exercises that get multiple muscle groups working together.
The Origins of Functional Training
In modern fitness, there is a lot of talk about functional training. Gyms offer functional fitness training and you will find different pieces of home gym equipment like kettlebells that are marketed as being designed for functional fitness, but this was not always the case.
Functional training came to the gyms from disciplines like occupational therapy and rehabilitation. When a person loses some of their physical capabilities through either injury or disease, they might need to retrain their body to handle tasks that they once took for granted. To restore the necessary physical capabilities that the person would need for their life at home or at work, a physical therapist would design a fitness plan that targets the muscle groups and abilities that are relevant to the individual.
People still use functional training in this way, but now it is also used before an injury or illness makes it a necessity. It is not uncommon for a person to suffer an injury when doing a simple everyday task that they have done thousands of times before, and the chance of this happening increases as we age. Functional training can be used to prevent many of these injuries.
Functional Training for the Individual
Functional training is going to mean different things to different people. For older adults, it might be used to help them build strength, improve balance and maintain flexibility. However, if you are a younger person, then it might be geared more toward your occupation and recreational activities. An effective functional fitness routine will be based on the needs of the individual, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
For this reason, it can be good start your functional training under the guidance of a professional trainer. If you are not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to training, you might have a hard time developing an effective routine, and you might not know the correct ways to perform the different exercises.
A good trainer will be able to listen to your concerns as an individual and identify the types of exercises that you should be performing. The professional trainer should also be able to build an at home exercise plan that you can use and recommend fitness equipment that will be beneficial.
With functional fitness, you have one of the most practical forms of training that you will find. It is a form of training that will prevent injury and make your everyday life easier. For the needs of most people, that is a great benefit to health and a good investment of your time.