The popularity of Functional Training (like Crossfit for example) continues to rise, prompting many people to investigate this innovative and challenging framework for functional fitness. If you’re thinking about joining your local Functional Training group, here are some of the key things you need to know before you get started:
Can anyone join a Functional Training group?
The biggest misconception about Functional Training is that you need a good level of fitness before you can take part. This isn’t true at all, and Functional Training workouts can be scaled to make them suitable for people of all fitness levels.
The advanced nature of some of the workouts can seem intimidating, but there are always ways to alter the workouts so you get maximum benefit. For example, if you can’t do pull-ups, the movement can be substituted for alternative movements that work the same muscle groups, such as assisted pull-ups or ring rows.
People may join a Functional Training box for a variety of reasons. Some of them are elite athletes, training to take part in competitions, but not all of them. Many people simply attend the sessions to get fitter, lose weight, or to work out in a supportive, team environment. Everyone is welcome, and the workouts will always be adjusted to suit each individual’s personal needs and training goals.
You Should Focus on Form Before Intensity
When you first start Functional Training, you will surrounded by people who have been doing it for much longer than you have. As a result of this, they will be able to lift heavier weights than you, perform advanced movements, and push their body to the limit during the workouts.
In time, you’ll be able to join them, but it’s important to focus on the form before you can add the intensity. This means that, to start with, you’ll need to spend some time getting to know the movements, and learning how to perform them safely and effectively. This is extremely important, as it will prevent injuries further down the line, and will ensure you’re performing the movements correctly from the very beginning. Functional Training has been criticised on the basis that injuries are common, but these can be prevented when form is prioritised.
Once you’re comfortable with the movements, and your coach is confident you can perform them safely, you can start to add some weight and intensity during the workouts.
Compete with Yourself, Not Others
For some, Functional Training is a competitive sport. Competitions take place across the year, both nationally and internationally, with the official CrossFit Games held in LA each year. However, for the majority of people, Functional Training is a means to get fit and have some fun whilst doing it!
The workouts are designed to be measurable, and it’s important to keep track of your statistics. Your success is measured in the number of rounds completed, how long it took you to complete the workout, or how much weight you successfully managed to lift (with good form).
It’s important that you use this data to compete with yourself, and not others. Constantly comparing yourself to others can damage your self-esteem, as there will always be someone faster, stronger or more efficient than you. Competing with yourself allows you to beat your previous records, getting better with each workout, which is far more important than beating your new Functional Training friends!
Functional Training Workouts are Constantly Varied
One of the main benefits of Functional Training is that the workouts are constantly varied, so you’ll be doing a different thing each time you step into the box. Many people prefer this approach to fitness, when compared to traditional gym routines, which can be boring and repetitive.
Functional Training coaches program their own workouts, which mean that each box is different. Some have more of a strength focus, incorporating strength cycles into their classes, whilst others prefer to focus on fast-paced, traditional Functional Training workouts.
Whilst the classes are constantly varied, in order to keep you on your toes and prevent boredom, there are also a number of benchmark workouts that enable you to track your progress over time. These will appear in the classes from time to time, providing you with a way to test how much your fitness has improved.
Functional Training is a multifunctional sport, and you’ll gain a variety of skills. In addition to improvements to your general fitness, you’ll also spend time working on gymnastics skills, strength training, agility and flexibility. You’ll also develop a strong sense of mental toughness, which will extend far beyond the walls of your Functional Training group.
Workouts Don’t Get Any Easier!
Thanks to the varied nature and scalability of Functional Training workouts, they never get any easier. Whilst your body will adjust, and become more accustomed to the movements and style of workouts, there will always be a way to take a step up and make the work out more challenging.
This is a good thing – you’ll be in a constant state of improvement, which will continue to build your stamina and endurance. To start with, your fitness will improve dramatically, but is likely to plateau after a few months. This is a sign that you need a new challenge, and should take the next step in your Functional Training journey.
The classes will always be challenging, so make sure you keep yourself well hydrated and eat well to aid your recovery after a class. The workouts are designed to build a number of key fitness skills, including power, speed, flexibility and balance. They’re physically demanding, so you must allow your body sufficient time to rest in between sessions.
You’ll Work Out in a Supportive, Community Environment
One thing you’ll notice almost immediately upon entering a Functional Training group is the overwhelming sense of community. Unlike traditional gyms, where interaction with other people is limited, people are there to help and support others with their fitness journey, whatever their goals are.
As well as improving your health and fitness, when you join a Functional Training group you’ll have the opportunity to make some new friends, who will support you and instantly make you feel at home. Your first session can seem intimidating, but there’s nothing to worry about. Even if you finish the workout last, your efforts will be applauded and you’ll have people there to encourage you every step of the way.
If you’re looking to get started with the right Functional Training equipment, speak to the experts at Orbit Fitness or buy online today!