What is Functional Training

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I'm a skier. Should I do squats on a stability ball for mogul training?

What is Functional Training

Now that we have established that a well-designed fitness plan works all of the muscles in the body while encompassing all aspects of fitness, there is something else that needs to be considered. Today, everyone is talking about "functional fitness." But what does this mean? Unfortunately, the phrase is often over used. Many programs that are called functional training simply involve exercises that can only be described as "stupid human tricks."Standing on a stability ball is a good example of this type of "trick."

Exercise programs that are truly functional serve to support and enhance the movement skills that we use in daily life and athletic pursuits. This form of training is solidly grounded in movement science research that tells us that our brains think in terms of entire movement patterns. It's a far cry from theories that tell us that we need to isolate individual muscle groups in order to improve movement skills or rehabilitate from injury. In fact, we once thought that all we needed to do to improve motor skills was to strengthen muscles that were weak, and stretch muscles that were tight.

However, physical therapists and sport coaches were dissatisfied with the results of this form of training. They found that even if muscle imbalances were corrected, many faulty movement patterns had become habitual. The functional training movement was developed as a means of teaching people new movement patterns that were more efficient.

There are specific criteria that allow a program the honor of being designated "functional."

  • It involves an integration of muscle groups as opposed to an isolation of a single muscle.
  • It makes used of multi-directional movements, instead of exercises that are performed in a linear plane of motion.
  • It uses your deep core stabilizers, as opposed to seat belts and artificial stabilizers.

Today, many weight-training programs make use of the functional training technique. In general, you will be using lighter weights, and performing movements that mimic real-life activities.

   

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