What is Functional Training

What is the Real Definition of Functional Training

Everyone has a different definition of “Functional Training,” but when it comes down to it, functional training is what you make of it. Learn a functional approach to both training, outdoor activities, and life in general.

Life is movement and movement is life. Movement is different for everybody/every body. Our goals, where we live, our age, season, and ability all play a role in the intensity, duration, and types of movement we participate in.

Functional movement takes regular everyday movements and incorporates them into an exercise form. Functional movement often consists of resistance training (load) and/or cardiovascular training (oxygen-bearing). Functional training typically incorporates multiple joints and muscles to train the body.

Utilizing functional training as a base for your movement lifestyle program will help you get the most benefit out of your workout. Functional training is the most efficient and effective approach to being healthy and performing your best.

Functional training is not only good for people who just want to maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul, but it is also good for an athlete who wants to achieve peak performance in their sport. For instance, to improve my surfing, I like to incorporate the Indo balance board into a resistance training workout. While on the Indo board, I can do squats, shoulder presses with dumbbells/kettlebells, etc.

This functional movement is not only a form of resistance training, but I am also improving my balance and reaction time by being on the Indo board. I also like to run and do lunges on uneven terrain like sand. In addition, I like high repetition exercises that focus on my paddle muscles to improve muscle endurance.

Cross training with other board sports, like snowboarding, helps to develop my surfing and vice versa. Mountain biking is another sport that I really like, and it is also a form of cross training. When moving fast through the trails, especially downhill, the body is forced to react to the terrain which helps to improve reaction time.

Since surfing is a sport that requires quick reactions, mountain biking actually helps to develop my surfing. Furthermore, biking helps develop leg strength and muscle endurance which again improves surfing, as well as, snowboarding. You can see how cross training can effectively develop your game. There are a number of benefits that result from cross training which include:

  • Reduced risk of injury (less repetitive stress on the same joints or muscle sets)
  • Added variety to workouts (prevents boredom, increases motivation and expedites progress)
  • Increased overall fitness levels
  • Improved performance

Cross training is for everyone. You do not have to be a competitive athlete to participate in or benefit from cross training. Simply vary your routine by choosing different activities or add new aspects to existing workouts.

Similar concepts can be utilized in resistance and cardiovascular training. There are many ways to add variety for maximum performance such as changing weights, tempos, rest intervals, time, reps, exercises and incorporating variations to exercises etc. When targeting different rep and time ranges, in conjunction with light, moderate and heavy resistance training, you will be targeting fast and slow twitch fibers which forces the body to continually progress.

Most people start cross training by alternating between activities from workout to workout. For instance, they choose to swim one day, cycle on another, and run on the following day. You can also incorporate aspects of interval training, known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is a fluctuation in the intensity of a specific activity which will create further energy demands on the body (i.e. increase heart rate). This actually creates what we call an afterburn effect which helps advance the fat burning process even after your workout.

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