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What is Functional Strength Training?

Functional training is the answer to overall better health

Date December 29, 2021
Author Patrick Wong
Tags Fitness
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Everything You Need to Know About Functional Fitness Training

Have you ever climbed to the top of the stairs and felt completely winded? Or maybe you pulled a muscle bringing in the groceries?

You’re not alone. This happens more often than people think.

The fitness industry is flawed. Sometimes, all that cardio and strength training in the gym don’t translate well when applied to real-life circumstances. This is where functional strength training comes into the picture. With the right strategy, all sorts of exercises can be functional.

This type of training has been common for many years—even during the prehistoric ages when our hunter-gatherer ancestors relied on their bodies and tools to survive. But some people may still be completely unaware of functional training and the plethora of benefits it offers. If you’re one of those people, you might be thinking: What is functional strength training, anyway? We’ve got you covered. Here’s what you should know.

A Quick Definition

Functional fitness, also known as functional training, is a form of exercise that aims to prepare your body to deal with your usual day-to-day tasks. This includes movements such as lifting, bending, squatting, pushing, pulling, walking, and lunging. Think about the last time you had to squat to pick up your keys or an object off the floor. Or when you had to carry a bag of groceries inside or reach for a condiment from up on a high shelf. This type of training builds and strengthens muscles in your body by mimicking everyday activities in real-life positions.

If you can do four sets of 12 barbell back squats in perfect form and without breaking a sweat, but strain a muscle as soon as you try to put the mustard back on the top shelf, then it might be the time to start incorporating some functional strength training exercises into your workout routine.

A Few Examples?

The functional fitness you’re probably most familiar with is CrossFit. But let’s break it down with a few specific examples.

Deadlifts are a functional exercise because they mimic something we do almost every day: picking something up and putting it down again. If you can deadlift a heavy barbell, then you can deadlift your toddler.

Squats are another example because, once again, we squat frequently. You squat to tie your shoes, clean up after your dog, and pick things up from the floor.

Push-ups and pull-ups are another one not so much because we mimic them in day-to-day life, but because being able to push and pull your own body weight is excellent for your health, stability, and coordination.

What are the Benefits?

If done right, functional fitness training programs can offer an overwhelming number of health benefits to anyone, regardless of age and experience. These programs can help improve flexibility, aerobic capacity, and motor control. From newbies looking to start their fitness journey to regular gym-goers and athletes who want to add a little variety to their routines, a functional training program can help improve your life outside of physical activity, making everyday tasks safer and more comfortable to execute.

Increased Strength and Muscle Mass

Functional fitness exercises reduce the risk of injury by strengthening multiple muscle groups at the same time. Think about the last time you had to lift a heavy package. It’s not one muscle pulling all the weight, is it? It’s a combined effort of your quadriceps, abdominal, and gluteal muscles. So, why spend time at the gym doing isolations when you can work on more than one muscle group simultaneously?

Functional strength training puts heavy emphasis on workouts that involve challenging the core muscles and numerous joint systems. These are known as compound movements. By training various muscle groups, you will be more prepared to distribute the weight, impact, and stress across different areas of your body, instead of just one muscle group doing all the work (which can lead to injury).

Improved Mobility and Flexibility

Functional training is all about movements that constantly require you to use your flexibility and mobility. Mobility allows you to control your body’s movement throughout a full range of motion, with your muscles producing and releasing tension through contracting and relaxing.

Incorporating full-body movements—loosening the hips, back, and chest muscles—into your routine gives your body the ability to move more freely and significantly diminish the risk of injury. As your range of motion increases, you’ll find performing daily activities much easier.

Better Core Strength and Posture

With more people working from home today, back pain is increasingly becoming common. Fortunately, many functional fitness programs focus on strengthening the muscle groups located in your core. Engaging the scapulars, abdominals, and hips during exercise is essential since your core doesn’t only protect your organs. It’s also responsible for stabilizing the spine.

In addition, many functional fitness routines rely on the utilization of multiple muscle groups at one time. This requires your small muscle groups to support the large ones, which helps prevent poor posture. With better posture, there is less pressure and pain on the areas of your back, preventing injuries and back pain.

Improved Overall Functioning

Because functional training focuses on movements that we perform every day, you develop stability, allowing you to accomplish everyday tasks with less difficulty and discomfort. In a fast-paced and chaotic world, ease of movement in your day-to-day living is something you need. These programs can provide a valuable and practical fitness style that anyone can follow no matter the age and lifestyle.

Why is it So Effective?

Functional training programs work so well because they have a real-world goal of improving the overall function of your body. Often acknowledged for bridging the two worlds of physical therapy and personal training, functional fitness training restores the body, boosting its endurance, muscle strength, and stability.

From pull-ups, lunges, and push-ups to the squats, rows, and deadlifts, functional training exercises can cover anybody’s specific needs and translate beyond the gym and to your everyday life.

Is it Right for Me?

Functional strength training exercises are relatively low-impact, making them ideal for anyone, regardless of age and fitness level. If you’re dipping your toes into the fitness life, finding the style and pace of routines that cater to your needs can be especially difficult. With functional movements, you’re able to work on your physical abilities without putting too much stress on your joints and muscles.

As with any fitness program, it’s necessary that you take it slow and start at a beginner’s pace. Consulting a fitness expert is recommended. Training programs are most effective when they play on your strengths and are tailored towards your needs. As time goes by, you’ll get stronger and more capable of added resistance and high-intensity workouts.

Functional fitness exercises should follow the structure of a customized fitness plan. Generic fitness programs may work for some people. But individualized training guarantees success because the exercises and routines are patterned according to your weaknesses and goals.

Strength Training with Tempo

If you’re starting your wellness journey and functional fitness sounds like something right up your alley, try Tempo’s strength training programs. Tempo incorporates real-world lifting movements into your workout regime.

Barbell exercises, in particular, are a fantastic choice if you want to work out using a holistic approach. Tempo targets several muscle groups located in the lower and upper body. And they’re great for cardio, too. Moreover, with a dedicated trainer like our Head Coach Clarence, you’ll get professional guidance, support, and feedback that you need to get better.

And if you’re someone who exercises regularly and wants something that packs a bigger punch, you can try Tempo’s HIIT program to maximize the health benefits in a short period and help your body be more functional. Shop Tempo Studio and Tempo Move today.

Author Patrick Wong
Tags Fitness
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