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Functional Training
8 March 2015
Functional Training

Let’s begin by answering the question “What is Functional Training?”

Functional Training may sound like a new hyped up fitness craze, but this style of training is established having been around since time began. In today’s society the majority of us are a lot less active than our ancestors were. We sit and eat around a table, we sit at a desk to use our computers and we sit on our couches at night watching the TV, this is a fairly new concept of living for our bodies! The human body is designed to make many movements on a daily basis, ranging from; walking, jumping, skipping, lifting, twisting and turning and many of us do not utilise our bodies to their true potential.

Functional Training is a way of exercising that simulates the movements that our bodies have been designed to make. Like the name suggests, they are ‘functional exercises’, in other words they help us to ‘function’ more effectively on a day-to-day basis. This is because the exercises that you perform when you do Functional Training have their foundation in our everyday movements. By building on the foundation of these natural movements you are able to train your muscles in such a way that daily tasks/chores become easier.

Sounds good…But How?

Functional Training incorporates exercises that use multiple joints, multiple muscles and all 3 planes of motion. The human body can be divided into 3 planes of motion:

  1. Transverse Plane – divides the body into Superior (top) and Inferior (bottom).
  2. Frontal Plane – divides the body into Anterior (front) and Posterior (back).
  3. Sagittal Plane – divides the body into Left and Right.

Exercising in a way that incorporates the use of multiple joints, multiple muscles and all 3 plans of motion, helps to prepare our bodies to react quickly and correctly when exposed to sudden unexpected stimuli. If the muscles that you use most often during everyday living are strong and conditioned then you are less likely to injure yourself. For example, if you are running and you trip over a rock, the exercises you have performed when doing functional training can help your body respond quicker and prevent you hitting the pavement. This is because not only are your muscles worked hard with this type of training, but your brain is too. Functional Training helps to enhance the relationship between the nervous system and the musculo-skeletal system helping to make your reaction time faster.

So what are the benefits to me?

For many years it was thought that to achieve strength we had to isolate the muscle and lift weights. Functional Training is different because it focuses on the body as a whole and believes that strength is only one part of the fitness equation. Functional Training works on all elements of fitness:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance
  • Agility
  • Power
  • Balance
  • Co-ordination

By focusing on and improving all elements of fitness you will quickly reap a vast number of benefits/rewards:

  • Prevention and/or correction of bad posture caused by spending many hours slumped over a computer.
  • Longer, stronger and leaner muscles.
  • Constant core activation, giving you a fabulous six pack and a super strong back!
  • No more plateau! Your body will be challenged in a new and exciting way at every session.
  • You will get smarter! Remember that functional exercises improve your brain’s ability to communicate with your body.
  • Improved co-ordination, helping you in other areas of your life, for example: on the Golf Green, on the basketball court, or playing games with the kids.
  • Keeps you mobile and ‘functioning’ as you age.
  • Fantastic fat burning workout!

Some examples of Functional Training Exercises:

  • Multi-directional lunges – mimics and prepares your body for movements like vacuuming and lawn mowing.
  • Squat to bicep curl – mimics and prepares your body for bending to lift a heavy basket of washing or lifting your child from the floor.
  • Step up with weights – mimics and prepares your body for carrying heavy grocery bags up a flight of stairs.
  • Diagonal Reach with medicine ball – mimics and prepares your body for putting away items in high places.