Functional Training?

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Article from March 10, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

Quite often, new clients ask me what functional training is and how it differs from traditional personal training. I define functional training as a personalized exercise program that involves strengthening the entire body, and preparing the body to perform the activities required by everyday life activities. For example, if I were working with a new mother I would design a training program focused on core and upper body strength development to help in the carrying of a new baby. Consider the core and upper body strength that is required when you carry and place a child in a car seat.   But if you were training for a marathon, your training program would be focused on developing endurance and low body range of motion exercises. As a functional trainer, my goal is to develop a personalized training program designed to develop the muscles necessary to perform everyday life activities more easily, while minimizing the risk of injury. (1)

Functional training doesn’t focus on traditional weight training machines that are found in most fitness facilities because these highly specific machines target only a single range of motion and do not reflect the movements we use in our daily life activities or sports. Instead, I prefer to use exercise balls, barbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, cable machines, resistance tubing, rocker boards, and lastly, your body weight. A research study conducted in 2008 compared functional training to fixed equipment training. At the conclusion of the study, not only did the functional users have a significant increase in strength that the fixed-form group did not, nearly 58%, but the functional group also saw an overwhelming improvement in balance over the fixed-form group, at a rate of nearly 200%. (2)

Give functional training a try and I guarantee you will see and feel the results within the first month.

(1)  O’Sullivan, Susan B. (2007) Physical Therapy, F.A. Davis Company, pp.1335. ISBN 0-0836-1247-8.

(2)  Spennewyn, K. 2008. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, January, Volume 22, Number 1.

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