What Is Functional Training and How Can It Benefit You?

Functional Training has been used as a buzz word for many years now.

The idea behind functional training is that each exercise should be more natural and carry over into daily life. Functional training exercises tend to activate more muscles and therefore consume more energy. These multidimensional exercises also tend to improve your natural movement skills and enhance your general mobility.

Functional training helps provide you with the strength, stability, and mobility you need to thrive in your life and sports. You use basic functional movement patterns like pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, rotating, carrying and gait patterns—walking and running—every day. Functional training utilizes exercises that improve your movement proficiency in these primary patterns to give you an edge so you can achieve your goals safely and with good health. Seems smart, right?

Fitness professionals typically recommend functional training to pregnant women or clients recovering from injuries or illness as a replacement for standard endurance or strength training. The reasoning is that it’s best not to push a person’s body to engage in exercise that it can’t currently handle.

# 1 – Dumbbell Reverse Lunge with Rotation

The Reverse lunge with Rotation combines a lot of movement changes and challenges your balance, mobility and core stability all at the same time. It is important to ensure that the rotation comes from the midsection of the body rather than the shoulders. The back knee should not rest on the floor during the rotational part of the movement. Ensure that this functional training exercise is divided into 3 parts: the Reverse Lunge, then the Rotation back and forth, and finally the step back to the stating position.

Workout Example: 10 repetitions each side, rest 60 seconds and repeat for a total of 3-5 sets.

 

# 2 – Hip and Thoracic Openers

This hip opening exercise can be used as part of your warm up or as part of your main functional training program. Due to most peoples sedentary lifestyles the hips can become very stiff with limited mobility. Tight hips will cause lower back issues and general movement compensations. This functional training exercise not only opens the hips but also strengthens the core muscles and improves mobility in the upper spine too, another common area that lacks mobility due to too much sitting. Breathing is a key part to this exercise so ensure that you breathe out as you sink your hips down into the movement.

Workout Example: Try 20 alternating repetitions with controlled breathing

# 3 – Single Leg Dumbbell Row

Rowing exercises are very important because not only do they counteract all the sitting that we do but they also target a huge amount of neglected muscle mass on the back. As soon as you start standing on one leg and performing a row lots of great things start to happen. Standing on one leg improves hip stability which is essential because most people have weak external rotation which affects gait. The one legged stance also encourages greater core activation in order to deal with rotational forces placed on the body during the one arm row. A flat back is vital throughout this functional training exercise to keep the spine protected. Try to work on the mid back muscles by rowing towards the hips rather than shrugging the shoulders.

Workout Example: Try 8 repetitions each side, rest 60 seconds and repeat for 3-4 sets.

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