The fitness industry continually evolves with apps, exercise equipment and the latest concepts in exercise science. The newest buzzword in the industry is “functional training.” If you are not in the industry, you may ask what functional training is? Ask any personal trainer or group fitness instructor what functional training is, and chances are you will get a variety of explanations.
Functional training done correctly has a huge carry over on the way we move in everyday life with benefits for everyone regardless of age or fitness level. Fitness centers have historically modeled their floor exercise stations with sectorized equipment that uses a singular motion for specific muscle groups, emphasizing muscle development based on repetitions and weight. The bodybuilding industry had and still has a significant influence on training and gyms filled with machines designed to target muscle isolation.
Functional training enters the arena as an added approach to overall training. Fitness centers are seeing the need for functional training and making all additions for rooms or an area with selected equipment specifically for this purpose.
Functional training is defined as training that relates to how we move daily. Functional training consists of five daily life patterns: bend and lift, push, pull, single-leg movement, and rotation. Our movements are multi-planar. The planes of motion incorporated with the five-movement patterns are frontal (side to side), sagittal (forward and backward movement) and transverse, which is rotation. As an example, you go to the grocery store pushing your cart, back up for something you missed, select items that are high and low on the shelves, take the items and place them on the checkout, put the items back in the cart, push the cart to the car and put the bags in. Drive home, take them out, carry groceries up the steps into the house and place them on shelves. You may not realize it, but this scenario involves all three planes of motion and all five movement patterns.
You pushed, pulled, bent and lifted, worked in a single leg motion and rotated. How does functional training help you with this scenario? Functional training significantly impacts life outside the gym and gives an added advantage in the sports arena. Fitness centers add entire rooms or areas for training that are distinctively different in concept and flow. A room might include workstations that involve multiple movements and unconventional exercises. Types of equipment might consist of a ski machine that works you in a forward motion like the movement of cross-country skiing using the triceps, back muscles, quads, glutes and core. A sled machine that requires you to push and pull from one point to the next, which involves the entire core and leg muscles to push and pull. A punching bag works the core, rotation, leg, back, arms and pectoral muscles. TRX equipment, weighted balls, rowing machines, air dynamic cycles and treadmills. Versatile workstations and a variety of equipment that is fun and challenging. Functional training is also becoming part of group fitness classes, emphasizing compound movement patterns that include weights. If you are thinking about joining a fitness center or hiring a personal trainer, inquire about functional training. It can improve your daily activities, sports games and recreation with strength stability, performance and movement patterns. Live, love life with increased movement and strength.