Functional training has become a buzz word in the fitness industry, but what does it actually mean? Should you try it? How can it benefit you? Find out in this article.
What is functional training?
Functional training conditions you to perform the actions of daily life more effectively and efficiently. It mirrors the movement patterns of everyday life. Think carrying the groceries to the car, holding a baby, lifting something onto a high shelf etc. This training style involves similar movements to these, helping you get stronger, fitter and more agile so that when you do these movements in your daily life, you’re better equipped to do so. This decreases the risk of injury, supports injury rehabilitation, is low impact and improves joint health. The intention of functional training is usually to increase cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility and speed.
It initially emerged to prepare soldiers for war, to ensure they are physically fit and mobile to move effectively so they are less likely to injure themselves. The army fitness test puts recruits through a functional training workout to test their strength and endurance. This has become a popular way of training for people interested in being physically optimized.
Most standard resistance workouts involve isolating muscle groups like biceps, quads, or calves, but humans aren’t designed to move that way. Functional workouts focus on key movement patterns like pushing, crawling, pulling and jumping, that are reflective of natural movements done by humans since the beginning of time.
Building functional strength helps to build muscle mass and helps to retain current muscle, which is particularly important as you age and naturally lose muscle mass, as shown in a study by the American Journal of Health Promotion. Alongside building muscle mass and increasing strength, it will also help prevent and rehabilitate injuries. As functional training focuses on movements that use multiple muscle groups concurrently, your body learns how to work in harmony to balance out weaknesses or natural imbalances. It focuses on movement patterns, switching between anaerobic and aerobic training zones to test your cardio and help you get fitter without compromising your joints or safety.
Our bodies are designed to move rather than being sedentary. As we sit all day long at our computer, our bodies become stiff and prone to injury. This training style helps to loosen up muscles and tendons and improve posture and flexibility which helps us be more mobile and active.
Overall, the benefits of functional training are amazing and the best part is that anyone can do it. Whether you are old, or injured or a complete newcomer, functional training can help you become fitter and stronger and your body will thank you for it.
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