Written by Brandon Blinn
Functional training improves movement quality for daily activities.
Proper loading and training makes the body more resilient. By training our muscles in the way they need to be trained, we can avoid overloading our joints and causing arthritis, knots, and pain. Whether we have a specific hobby or just want to improve our daily lives, functional training can help us move properly and make our bodies healthy and happy. Ultimately, functional training is an important part of overall joint and muscle health, improving our resilience and quality of life.
Here is what I'll cover by defining functional training:
How Specific Exercises Improve Movement Quality for Everyday Activities
Examples of Functional vs. Non-Functional Exercises
Importance of Functional Training for Overall Joint and Muscle Health
How Functional Training Improves Resilience for Everyday Life and Hobbies
The 6 Fundamental Exercises of Functional Training
Functional training, what is it? You can cut this pie several ways depending on your perspective but I'll tell you what I think it is from my perspective. Functional training has levels to it but at its very basic core is the art of training using specific exercises that improve the movement quality of our everyday movements depending on what specific activities we engage in. What do I mean by that?
Let's say that you have a surfer and their balance and stability have improved from the specific exercises they've been doing. Let's say two of those exercises include a single-leg step-down super set with single-leg squat holds. These two would have the potential to carry over into surfing because they mimic the positioning of surfing, so these would actually be functional and sport-specific to this specific individual. Let's say we had an exercise selection of calf raises and grip training with holding dumbbells. While a surfer would still need both of these muscle groups (grip training for holding the board and calf raises to help support and stabilize while standing) they wouldn't necessarily carry over into the skill of surfing quite like a single-leg squat and single-leg squat and hold would because it's not mimicking the specific positions of surfing. It just targets a specific muscle group. That would make those exercises beneficial but not functional. To someone else though, let's say a rock climber, grip training would be more functional to them based on their everyday activity.
If you want to argue though, we can argue that grip training could be functional for both people outside of their activities because the grip is necessary for everyday living as a human, but to what level? That's why I say grip training is more functional for the rock climber because he's using his grip at a much higher frequency and intensity. That's what I mean by functional.
If they didn't do any activity other than walking, single-leg step-downs are beneficial to someone who has trouble going downstairs or needs improved hip stability, or just wants to walk better. This is what makes some exercises universally functional. They can carry over to multiple daily actions, whether it be shredding the 50 ft waves or going downstairs. If an exercise mimics and has the ability to improve the quality of movement for that specific human body and its way of living, It's functional.
Why is it Important though? It's important because if you're living your life and doing your activities and not moving properly or you're not conditioned to take the trauma of the activity and recover properly, over time you'll be improperly loading your joints over and over and it can create what doctors like to call "arthritis" in them. You'll be overloading muscle groups during activities and cause knots in areas that cause more pain in the joints on top of the "arthritis" that you've already created. It can lead to other things that aren't ideal but are not the end of the world. None of this will happen if you're properly loading and training your muscles in the way they need to be trained and can relate to the way you move throughout your daily life.
Do you need functional training to make your body move properly and make it healthy and happy? I'd say yes because when you learn to do things like the hip hinge properly it'll save your back from things that could have the potential to bug your back later like doing dishes, brushing your teeth, or picking up stuff off the ground. It just makes your body that much more resilient for everyday life and if you have a specific hobby, it only helps with that too. The most common functional training comes from 6 fundamental exercises. The squat, hip hinging, lunge variations, upper body push, upper body pull, and carrying. Variations of those exercises will carry into most people every day lives regardless of how they live!
If I can help in any way, don't hesitate to reach out! I'm happy to help in any way I can! You can reach out to me on IG @Blinn_Fitness or Brandon@blinnfitstudio.com. I provide an extensive workout program and exercise library as well.
For strength training & personal training, stop by Blinn Fitness at our Woodinville, WA location today!