The functional training world has undoubtedly been rampant with fads and trends, some good, some less good and some downright ridiculous. But like any trends, people get lost in all the confusion and overreaction. This leaves room to discuss the rights and wrongs of the methods of functional fitness training, and get the real treasures, those that might have been hidden in all the commotion in the first place.
Functional fitness training has increased significantly primarily because of the results people derive when they do it correctly. The coordination, skill aspect and carryover to function and performance enhancement reinforce this training methodology. This beautiful approach to exercise strives to connect a person’s mind and body, and revel in the joys of movement.
To our devotees of functional training and also our newcomers, the “do’s” and “don’t’s” of functional training might seem easy but do you really know what you should and shouldn’t be doing or teaching your clients. Here are the main tips to incorporate in your next training program.
Aim for full body training sessions: functional training focuses on multi-joint movement as much as possible. The body is designed to work as a system, so to perform better it should be trained as a system, not a collection of individual parts. Exercises including squats and presses, deadlifts and variations on the battling ropes, train the whole body in one go and have a wide range of benefits.
Free weight exercises: Functional movements incorporate the use of “free weight” equipment such as kettlebells , power bags, battling ropes, suspension training and mobility drills. This proves to be effective as it forces the body to work on balance, strength, stability and mobility. These movements are performed not in one direction, such as a squat but involve multi-plane directions, like side swings.
Assess and train: An individual should be assessed across each of the human movement patterns and progressive training steadily increases the difficulty of the task they can perform. The average client should look to improve their functional applied strength and functional range to cope with any task encountered in their daily life and activities.
Don’t copy, seek advice: Many exercises and equipment go under the name of functional training and can be found at the gym. But often, equipment is used incorrectly. It is common for people to just copy what they see. That does not necessarily mean the person who you are watching is doing it right, or whether it is even the right exercise for you. Engage a personal fitness trainer for advice (and potentially a movement assessment to benchmark your levels) and determine what is right for you.