Functional strength training has been growing in popularity in recent years. It’s a buzz phrase that’s been making the rounds but what is it and should you add functional exercises to your routine?
What is Functional Strength Training?
Functional training is a type of exercise that helps you perform activities in everyday life more easily. These exercises typically use the whole body and emphasize core strength, balance, stability as well as flexibility to prevent injury while performing these tasks mirroring movements from our daily lives like squatting or reaching for something on high shelves at work (or home).
Functional training can be done using your own body weight, such as with push-ups, sit-ups and squats. You can also use tools such as resistance bands, dumbbells or kettlebells to add more challenge to your workout.
Functional Strength Training Benefits
Helps You Perform Everyday Movements
Functional strength training exercises help you perform common everyday movements such as carrying the shopping, moving furniture around or picking something up off of the floor. By improving these movement patterns, you can not only prevent injuries but also move more easily and efficiently in your everyday life.
In addition, functional strength training can help improve your posture and alignment. Poor posture can lead to pain and injuries, but by improving your posture with functional strength training, you can help prevent these issues.
Improve Balance and Stability
Functional strength training can also help improve your balance and stability. This is important because as we age, our balance and stability tend to decline, which can lead to falls and injuries.
By improving your balance and stability with functional strength training, you can help reduce your risk of falling and injuring yourself.
Traditional Benefits of Strength Training
Working on your functional strength will also have all of the other benefits which come along with strength training which we have covered here in our full strength training benefits article.
Functional Strength Training Exercise Examples
There are many examples of functional strength exercises (or more commonly known, compound exercises) but here are some of the most popular:
- Farmer’s carries
- Overhead presses
- Sled Push/Pulls
If you would like to know how to do any of these exercises with proper form, there are plenty of resources available on the web to help you. YouTube is a great place to learn how to perform various exercises.
As you can see, functional strength training exercises are not too different from traditional strength training exercises. The main difference is that functional strength training exercises often use multiple joints and muscles at the same time, whereas traditional strength training exercises often isolate a single muscle group.
Should you do functional strength workouts?
As you can see from the benefits outlined above, working on your functional strength offers many benefits, whether you’re looking to prevent injuries, improve your posture or just move more easily in your everyday life. If you’re looking for a way to improve your overall health and well-being, functional strength training is a great option.
The American Council on Exercise advocates that functional strength training can not only help an individual with their everyday performance but also boost one’s overall wellbeing.
Can I do Functional Workouts as a Beginner?
Yes, functional strength training is suitable for all levels, from beginners to experienced weightlifters. If you’re new to functional exercise, you can start with assisted bodyweight exercises such as incline-push ups or if you can’t quite manage any pull-ups, a lat pulldown machine is a great alternate.
If you’re not quite confident enough to try squatting with a barbell, you could start with bodyweight squats or even kettle-bell squats. Alternatively to the traditional barbell deadlift, you could start with dumbbell straight-leg deadlifts.
No matter your experience or fitness level, there will be a list of functional exercises for everyone. As always, if you have any pre-existing injuries or health conditions, talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
What is the difference between Functional and Traditional Strength Training?
Functional strength training is a type of strength training that focuses on exercises that train your muscles to work together to perform everyday activities, such as carrying groceries or playing with your kids.
Traditional strength training (or ‘nonfunctional’ training), on the other hand, often involves isolation exercises that target a single muscle group, such as bicep curls or leg extensions.
While both types of strength training have their place, functional strength training is often thought to be more beneficial for overall health and well-being.
Here are a few of the most popular questions regarding functional strength training answered for you:
What Does Functional Strength Training Mean?
As mentioned above, functional strength training is a type of strength training that focuses on training your whole body to work together to perform everyday tasks, such as getting up off of the ground or lifting something above your head.
What Are Examples of Functional Strength Training?
Some examples of functional strength training exercises include squats, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, and overhead presses.
Is Functional Strength Training Good for You?
Yes, functional strength training is good for you! It offers many benefits, such as improving your posture, preventing injuries, and increasing your overall strength.
Does Functional Training Burn Fat?
While functional strength training will definitely help you burn fat (read our full article about strength training for weight loss), if your only goal is losing weight, it is not the most efficient type of exercise. You’ll want to be focusing your energy on cardio workouts.
That being said, given the multitude of benefits highlighted above, functional training absolutely should be part of everybody’s workout regimen.
Is Functional Training Better than Traditional Strength Training?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on your individual goals and needs. If you’re looking to improve your overall strength and functional ability, then functional strength training is a great option. However, if you’re looking to build muscle in a specific area of your body or increase your strength for a specific sport, then a more specialized routine may be a better option.
There are many benefits of functional strength training, but these are just a few of the most important ones. If you’re looking to improve your overall health and wellness, functional strength training is a great place to start.
No matter your goals, functional strength training can be a great addition to your workout routine. Give it a try and see how it benefits you!