‘Functional Training’, seems to be one of the latest buzz words in the fitness community, its right up there with core stability, holistic wellness and movement patterns, all of which are made up names for concepts that have been around since people began exercising, is training abs and back (the core) new? Haven’t people been interested in all round health (holistic wellness) since the beginning of civilisation? And some clever so and so, realised we move in patterns, such as walking, running, squatting, crawling, swimming etc and decided we should call them movement patterns!! Brilliant!!
So what is ‘Functional Training’? Well, it’s using specific training methods to elicit a desired outcome. Take Olympic weight lifters, they will primarily use the Olympic lifts (clean & jerk, snatch), all the variations, with some assistance work, to develop the skill, speed and power necessary to excel in their sport. They wouldn’t get very far training like a bodybuilder!?
Don’t just jump on the ‘Functional Training’ bandwagon, trying all the new ‘Functional’ fads that come out, instead determine your unique goals and needs, then ensure you follow a training plan tailored to your goals, that’s real functional training!!
Lets compare two different ‘Functional Training’ methods, the Vipr, a piece of kit I believe should all be recalled, then melted down into dog toys, but that just me, and the Prowler, an awesome piece of kit. Take two rugby players, identical twins, same base fitness level, everything else being equal, 8 weeks of off-season training, one uses Vipr, the other uses the Prowler. Who’s starting the season in better condition?
The Vipr guy, has improved flexibility and ‘core’ stability to a degree, but is he stronger, faster, has his work capacity (fitness) improved? Not enough!
Now look at his twin, who has been battling with the Prowler for 8 weeks, he is stronger, faster, leaner, more powerful, physically and mentally tougher. Both his aerobic and anaerobic capacities has dramatically increased, this guy is strong and fit! Core stability? His core has been trained, along with his entire body, at high intensity, using many movements that mimic movements from the game of rugby!
Now, which exercise is ‘Functional’?