Why Is Functional Training Important?
Functional training is designed to improve the way you thrive in life. I always keep this in mind when creating workout plans for both myself and clients. Unfortunately, with the rise of social media and the impact it has had on the fitness industry, functional training is becoming something of the past. People often forget that the very first question you should ask when it comes to your program and each individual exercise is “why am I doing this?”
If you cannot answer that question, this should be where you take a moment to revaluate. Are you copying someone from social media? Did you see someone else doing it at the gym? Functional training is going to look different for everyone depending on the goals they have and how their body moves. This relates back to social media in the sense that we have become followers. Just because an influencer on Instagram did it does not mean you should too.
Make Goals for YOU.
Someone working as a nurse or paramedic may be trying to increase strength because of the people they have to physically handle daily. In this case, compound movements are best. Further adjustments could be made to create a more functional program such as using a trap bar. Another example is in terms of injury. If you have a lack of upper body mobility, doing a back bar squat doesn’t make much sense. This individual would work best with a goblet or safety bar squat. Understanding how your body moves is so important. Your functional exercises will depend on your current mobility, stability and the goals that you have set.
Looking into long term results, functional training continues to be important. If you had a goal of losing 50 lb and you accomplished it, that is AMAZING. Now, let’s dig a little deeper. You lost 50 lb, but you also have an injured knee that feels uncomfortable more often that not. Your shoulders are forward, there is pain along your neck and upper traps and to make things worse your one hip is so tight it hurts to walk for longer than an hour. Does this sound like an accomplishment? In my view, no.
It’s exciting to reach that initial goal but if you’re achieving this in a way that is hurting you, you’re not doing nearly as good for your body as you think. Sometimes, just moving for an hour is not enough. The mindset of “better than sitting on the couch” can be detrimental. Yes, movement is important, but if you aren’t doing the correct movements for your goals and current body you are hurting yourself in the long run.
Wants vs. Needs
Think of functional training as accomplishing goals you want at the same time as working on what is needed. You may not want to focus on mobility because your goal is to deadlift twice your body weight. However, making it a focus will create more opportunity in terms of your overall goal. If you have tight hips, you’re not going to be able to hinge properly therefore sabotaging how much you can lift within your deadlift. First, make solid goals, then assess how you move, and lastly fix your movements so your goals can be accomplished in a healthy manner.
Sarah Gregan specializes in rehabilitation and helping individuals get their movement back. She supports a wholesome and balanced lifestyle. Sarah aims to help educate people on how their bodies work in terms of nutrition and exercise to ensure less people battle an eating disorder.