Functional training

If we sit and think about the reasons why people train it would probably take a while before somebody came up with being able to complete daily activities with greater ease. Of course everybody has derives motivation from a unique source and these can vary from wanting to improve what they see in the mirror, to allowing them to compete at a higher level in a particular sport. But people whose primary goal when training is to perform day-to-day activities more easily are few and far between. 

And yet functional training forms a major part of most peoples fitness plans. The idea with functional training is to focus your efforts on improving your ability to perform daily activities. Some of these daily activities will probably be quite common to us all. So most of us would probably relate to walking up and down stairs everyday, right? But there are other daily activities that most of us will never do. So for a marathon runner you might call a five mile run a daily activity but the same wouldn’t be said for a sprinter.

So if you want to start training functionally, the first thing you need to do is establish which activities you are performing on a daily basis. That is the only way you can decide whether or not you are training for those activities. People who train for sports will be particularly familiar with this form of training, as I just eluded to with marathon runners and sprinters. So you might find that a tennis player will train their shoulders in order to improve their swing, whereas a footballer might focus on training their legs to be able to kick with more power.

Inevitably, we find that there tends to be a lot of crossover with this sort of training. So a golfer might find themselves training in the exact same way as a tennis player for their upper body because they are both hoping to improve their ability to swing their torso. Equally, you would then expect to see very different attitudes to training when it came to their lower body though.

You can think of it this way: every exercise that you perform has to be either functional or nonfunctional, but that doesn’t mean that every functional exercise is essential and every nonfunctional one is irrelevant. A good example for this is kettlebell swings. On the whole, their aren’t many activities that anyone, including sportsmen and women, that reflect the movement of a kettlebell swing. Yet they are one of the most common exercises to see being performed in the gym. Why is that if they serve no function?

The way I think about it is this. What people who train should be looking to do is adopt a healthy lifestyle and therefore obtain a healthy level of physical fitness. Now that is something that encompasses not only every aspect of your life, but every aspect of your body too. Put simply, that is the reason why people identify the weakest parts of their body and then seek to improve them so that they are as capable as all the other parts. So if people don’t like their legs, they train their legs, if people don’t like their arms, they train their arms.

That process will ultimately lead to somebody improving all the aspects of their body until they deem themselves as being physically fit. And it is at that point that we see functional training becoming far more common. Now all the training up until that point has not been irrelevant and it certainly hasn’t been a waste of time. It has helped lay the foundations for you then to go on and train your body to be specifically capable at performing whichever tasks you do on a regular basis. It is for that reason that functional and nonfunctional training are both required in order to better achieve your goals.

Ollie Lawrence
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