Functional Training: A Definitive Guide

What is Functional Training?

Functional training has become the new buzzword in gyms – but it’s by no means just another ‘fad’ of fitness. Using workouts that shift the focus in fitness to a much more practical full-body workout, functional training works by exercising your muscles in a similar way to how your body would be used in everyday life. It’s the type of training that prepares your body for various forms of daily activity and thus, maintains body strength and endurance that can be applied across all areas.

With an emphasis on strength, respiratory and flexibility the benefits of functional training differ from other workouts because of the way it targets your body. By incorporating the best of each field of fitness and taking into consideration the physical laws applied to daily body movements, functional training is aimed at boosting your health and general wellbeing. Want to try it for yourself? Here’s what functional fitness is all about and the benefits you’ll get.

Why is Functional Training Important?

1. Increases the Ease of Everyday Life

By improving the overall function of your body, boosting muscle strength and endurance, and developing muscle and body stability everyday activities can be completed with more ease. Compared to conventional training, the benefits of functional fitness tend to outweigh everything else because it’s actually targeting the movements we are doing every day.

This specific approach to fitness helps your quality of life to be increased in a way that’s practical, effective and easy. “I’d recommend functional training to anyone because it's easy, low impact, helps with joint pain and increases the ease of everyday life”, says Gavin. “Who wouldn’t want that?”

2. Greater Muscle Memory

According to Fitness Coach Gavin Smith, some of the best benefits of functional fitness include greater muscle memory. “The more your body performs a particular movement or exercise, the faster and more responsive your body can repeat the movements in the future”, explains Gavin. “This can be especially good for sports specific exercises”.

By performing regular functional fitness exercises, you’re not just building muscle and core strength but actually exercising the brain too - effectively boosting your brain’s memory. 

3. Low Impact

Because functional training implements exercises that are low impact, it’s a great starting point for anyone at any fitness level to try. For newbies starting out with a different workout or fitness style, it can be really hard knowing what is going to work best for your needs, but functional training will help to improve all your physical abilities without causing stress to your body and joints.

“It can be daunting at the start, not knowing what exercises to perform or what tools to use”, says Gavin. “With a small amount of research these days though, it’s easy to find a list of exercises to suit the individual. Practising movements and technique is far more important than adding weight to start off with also”. Here are a few low impact functional training exercises you can start off with.

4. Increases Flexibility and Coordination

Despite the common misconceptions circulating that functional training only leads to bulking and can make you lose your flexibility, it’s actually quite the opposite. “As the range in motion of functional exercises are quite large, meaning you need to start and finish in the position where your muscles are stretched, bulking is very hard to do”, says Gavin. Whilst functional training does indeed work the muscles, the intrusive and unflattering bulk of your current physique isn’t part of its process. “In terms of flexibility, functional training would actually help to increase it significantly”, explains Gavin.

One of the primary goals of functional training is to offer resistance. Implementing its exercises and programs works in boosting your body’s functional strength by increasing overall flexibility and coordination. As your range of motion is enhanced, you’ll find day-to-day activities become easier. 

5. Improves Balance and Posture

The exercises implemented through functional training use multiple muscles to enhance your strength and balance, effectively improving your overall posture. “Most functional training exercises are not stabilised and require you to recruit other small muscle groups to help support the larger ones, which will help prevent overtraining one muscle group and giving incorrect posture”, explains Gavin. “Being able to target specific muscles on a cable machine can also help prevent those imbalances in posture and prevent pain in some of the most common areas like the hips, lower back and shoulders”.

With the use of strength and weight training in functional fitness, weight management can be easily maintained reducing the stress on your body and boosting mobility, balance and posture. Great posture is foundational to all things, so using functional training routines will help in boosting the state of balance in your body enabling you to reach your full potential in activities throughout the day.

6. Helps with Joint Pain

For those that suffer from regular back, muscle and joint pain functional training can be a super beneficial. Best known for bridging the gap between personal training and physical therapy, functional fitness is designed to restore your body back to the way it’s designed to move. Because of this, chronic back, knee, neck and joint pain can all be significantly reduced by getting your body back to basics.

It’s an ideal workout for everyday people wanting to move as comfortable as possible. Whether they stay away from exercise because of arthritis or chronic back and knee pain, the exercises used in functional training can make daily tasks that were once hard, much more possible. For example, a person suffering from chronic back pain may find bending over to pick something up very difficult, but with functional training, the body will soon adapt to this daily task making it easier for them to do.

7.  Reduces Your Risk of Injury 

The same way as functional fitness works in improving chronic back pain, muscular pain and joint pain, it’s able to reduce the risk of injury too. Everyday movements can leave runners and sports enthusiasts withering in pain on a bad day, and this is why the exercises behind functional training are so important.

By mimicking everyday life movement patterns, your body is more likely able to cope with daily stresses. Functional training stands out from conventional training because of its way to reduce the risk of injury and stress to your body. When training in a functional manner, muscles aren’t just strengthened but the surrounding ligaments too, which is the area that can often become injured.

How the Orbit Max5 Can Assist You with Your Functional Training

Orbit’s new Max5 functional training gym breaks all the rules and enables you to train in a functional manner without any limits. “It’s a completely different take on the common home gym”, explains Gavin. “Most multi-gyms follow strict movements that follow through one plain. A few years ago, some of the big brand companies developed a bi-angular system that allowed you to follow two plains in an exercise. This functional trainer gym is basically the next step”.

“The functional arms move around to different set positions to allow you to work on different muscles. You also have the ability to remove the seat on this gym. You can utilise the top and lower pulley system for even more exercises un-inhibited by the seat”.

If you want to learn more about the Max5 or how functional training can help you, contact the Orbit Fitness team today on 1300 13 42 13.

Published on 29/06/2015

Last updated on 12/11/2021