There is no one stop shopping in the fitness world. I believe in mixing it up, yes functional training has its place along with all of the other amazing creative ways to workout.
If a trainer is true to his or her client, the program design will fit the needs of the client.
Establishing a strong base and foundation along with being specific will help you decide what modality will best work for your client.
Also, there is no one size fits all training, it’s called “personal” for a reason!
Hi Celso. To my mind, ‘functional training’ is a generic term for any type of training that is useful or “functional” for the person performing the exercise. That being said, something as simple as a pull-up can be considered functional training under the right set of circumstances. Pretty much ALL exercises are functional, it just depends upon the person performing the exercise and the intent or function that the exercise can be used for. Both the examples that you used in your question (cardio and weight lifting are, and can be considered “functional training”). So, I don’t see this big movement towards ‘Functional Training’ as any big deal. If we as trainers are truly taking our clients needs, goals, strengths and weaknesses into account when we design their program, we ARE in effect performing ‘functional training’ for them.
I hope that this helps.
By functional training do you mean the use of bodyweight and small equipment training? If this is the case I believe the reason it is so popular is because most people with a gym membership are not educated on beginner, foundation exercises. The small equipment and body exercises used in functional training strategically target specific muscle groups to improve strength, flexibility, and endurance to prepare for more efficient cardiovascular and resistance training. This prevents injury and invigorates the nervous system so the body works as one unit for more effective results. I believe functional training can be beneficial in any program, but some may require it more than others depending on their goals, genetics, skill level etc.
I was around when the functional movement began more than a dozen years ago. The basic idea is to perform repetitions of exercises that mimic movements the human body performs either day to day as in “activities of daily living” (aka “ADL”) such as squats which we perform every time we get in or out of a chair, up to more complex movements such as doing a one-arm balance row on one leg which mimics actions like reaching out to pick something up off the floor that may have rolled almost out of reach, or someone who has a big dog that often pulls their owner, throwing them off balance.
Functional exercises also help improve balance and agility. If you have a client that is a recreational athlete, it will greatly improve their performance to mimic the sports motions from various angles with resistance. Using the ViPR for core chops has significantly improved one of my student’s tennis game. Jump squats help improve the performance of beach volleyball and basketball players. If it improves the functionality (or performance) of your clients’ or students’ movements, then it is functional training. And as mentioned above, helps prevent injury as the body is more prepared for the unexpected (that’s why balance exercises are so popular).
In basic terms, as a physical therapist once told me a long time ago (phys. therapy is where this whole movement began, incidentally), while I was rehabbing from knee tendonitis, “don’t waste your time on seated leg extensions, that’s not functional, your body never does that movement in real life, except in a gym on a machine…” In other words, there are exercises that just work the muscles from an aesthetic perspective, like dumbbell presses on a bench, then there are exercises that serve a purpose and may come in handy someday, like push ups. Both work your chest, but one is functional and the other is not.
Celso, the term functional training is being thrown around just like the term core training is. Functional Training is not going to be all non weight exercises, using cable machines can be considered functional training as well. It will come down to the client and finding the best way to meet their needs in terms of training, rehab, prevention, etc.