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Functional Training

What is 'functional training'?

I received this email last week promoting some equipment designed for 'functional training'.

The equipment looks great - very stylish and with lots of scope for functional fitness training. I have no doubt that the equipment is great.

Yet, there is a picture of a lady upside down, spread eagle and held up only by some fabric. Is this really a 'functional' exercise?

So here's a good definition of functional training:

"Functional training attempts to adapt or develop exercises which allow individuals to perform the activities of daily life more easily and without injuries."

So based on the principle of specificity (i.e. if you want to become better at performing a movement, you need to perform appropriate exercises that are specific to that movement - there's no point swimming if you want to become a better power lifter) 'functional' exercises should consist of movement patterns that are similar to movement patterns performed in daily life.

I can't say that I have ever needed to adopt this position. Not when I'm cleaning the garage, doing some gardening or trying to move the furniture to find the remote control.

Maybe this is a functional exercise if you live in a very windy area where one of your daily hazards is hanging out your family's washing. Maybe the strong gusts regularly put you in this predicament. Maybe, just maybe.

In my opinion, functional training is about lifting, standing, pulling, climbing, pushing, twisting, holding, dragging, carrying etc. Not exercises like the one pictured.


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