The term “Functional Training” is one of the latest buzzwords to be thrown around the fitness industry & is often misused, misunderstood by coaches & gym goers.
Despite what your social media news feed will have you believe;
Balancing on a stability ball performing a barbell squat
Standing on a giant tyre, shoulder pressing a beer keg are NOT functional training exercises.
Not only are they not functional, they’re extremely dangerous to perform & have zero carry over to lifestyle or sport & are only posted online to attract attention for more “followers”.
Functional training is adapted exercises that allow you to perform activities of daily life more easily & without injury. These exercises closely mimic the basic primal movement patterns of the body; squat, hinge, row, press, twist, run, carry etc.
A large part of determining whether an exercise is functional is to look at what that individual does daily & what activities they partake in. If that person is a warehouse worker & is required to lift boxes from the floor to overhead, 9-5pm Monday-Friday, performing exercise variations of deadlifts, squats, chest press & shoulder press will be extremely beneficial. If the individual plays football or rugby, a big part of the game is moving around the field of play with a high level of explosive power, speed & agility. Performing exercises such as Bulgarian split squats, sled pushes & speed ladder drills will facilitate them.
Training tools such as; bosu balls, wobble boards, stability balls etc. should not make up the majority of someone’s training. These tools all have their place & are a great way to work core stability, however they often get overused & coined as “functional training”.
Just because a football player is required to have good core strength, doesn’t mean they need to spend an hour balancing on a gym ball. Quite the opposite! Football & most sports are played on a flat none moving surface, where the players move around on, therefore a large part of their training should somewhat resemble that. Yes, core strength for athletes is important but so too is strength, speed, agility & power & required specific programming.
That about covers it, I hope this blog has helped you understand the term functional training a little better & that you think twice before performing a circus act on a gym ball. DON’T be that person!
Keep training HARD!