Trainer Q&A: What is Functional Training?

What the heck is functional training
What the heck is functional training

Functional Training is one of those buzzwords you hear a lot about – yet few people know exactly what it means (myself included). So I went to Ryan Moore, Core Concepts Personal Trainer at Mountainside Fitness Surprise. Ryan has a degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and has been training all walks of life for the past 15 years, from 8 year olds to 90 year olds. Ryan not only talks the functional training talk, he walks the walk. Ten years of ice hockey and two dislocated shoulders, Ryan used functional training to get his body back on track. And he’s not the only one: big time athletes like LeBron James and Adrian Peterson have too. Here, Ryan tackles functional training…

Trainer Q&A: Ryan Moore, Core Concepts Personal Trainer at Mountainside Fitness Surprise

Q: What is functional training?
A: The most common answer to this question is that functional training is avoiding your typical machines and training multi-dimensionally, or performing some kind of balancing trick on functional toys. However, functional training is actually defined as “activity that trains everyday movement.” Many of the exercises we do in the gym today do not translate to our outside environment. Humans move in many different planes and freedoms such as push/pull, jump/squat, step, twist and bend. Functional training helps to improve as many of these movements through one or a series of exercises, and trains your muscles to work together. You should always train for movement before muscle.

"You should always train for movement before muscle"
“You should always train for movement before muscle”

What are the benefits of functional training?
No matter what training background you come from, functional training can improve strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, agility, core satiability and stamina – with just one movement. Training our body as one unit using a large number of the body’s joints and muscles is how we are designed to move. Functional Training can correct muscle imbalances that develop over time, help target your weak areas that need improvement and prevent injury. And anyone can do it: intensity, duration, and resistance can be adjusted to match the individual level of fitness. This will allow you to get the most out of your training.

How can you add functional training to your routine?
To learn functional training exercises first hand, try a TRX or Kettle bell class, or ask a Core Concepts trainer at your local Mountainside Fitness. Weight training using free weights while standing (as opposed to lying on a bench) is also often functional. And then start to incorporate these new moves into your own training. Give yourself time to get to know each movement and how to use the correct form. By adding new movements each week you’ll be able to add a whole new twist to your training routine. Have a plan in mind of how you want to improve your overall training/fitness and stay consistent. Functional training will always transfer to any training routine and will help you improve in all aspects of fitness and everyday life.

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