Functional training is getting pretty popular now. Gyms are starting everywhere claiming to have a great functional training workout that will get you results. What is functional training? We will go off of this definition:
"Exercise training based on compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups, especially the core, in order to produce an overall fitness that applies to general fitness outside the gym."
There are so many different types of this now. Crossfit, F45 Training, Tabata training, Kettle bell training, calisthenics, and hundreds of other privately names brands that do similar things. Most of these programs use a mix of some or all of these different types of exercise:
1) Weightlifting - This is moving any sort of weighted object from one place to another. Functional training usually uses some type of free-weight and stays away from any machines.
2) Gymnastics - this is any sort of exercise when your body is it's own resistance. This could be things such as a pull-up, push-ups, sit-up, air squat, lunges, etc...
3) Cardio exercises - these are any exercises that are purely meant to get your heart raise up and get you breathing. It could be things like different jumps, burpees, jump rope, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, etc...
So how good for you is this type of training? Let's make some observations and looks at the facts.
1) It gets your heart rate up. Like most other forms of exercise, it gets you breathing and increases your heart rate, which is good for that blood/lipid profile to improve your cholesterol, blood triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure, and resting heart rate.
2) It engages multiple muscle groups at the same time. This is good to help maintain muscular balance and coordination.
3) It stimulates those positive hormones. We all like (endorphins) post workout. They make you feel good and positive about yourself.
4) It stimulates muscle development, which increase your resting metabolism. That's good to keep yourself in shape in improve your physique.
5) Workouts are typically not designed for hypertrophy. This means you will not get huge and muscular. That is good for maintaining overall flexibility.
6) The impact and resistance improves bone density. The resistance exercise stimulates your body to build and maintain bone mass. This is especially important for women.
7) Workouts are often changed constantly. If programmed well this regularly keeps your body in an adaptive state where it is being metabolically challenged to complete the exercise task. That is good for preventing plateaus.
Now, there are some definite risks and potential negatives of functional training, but we are not here to be negative today. We are here to look at the facts and observe what good could come from doing functional training. Would this type of trying benefit you and your goals?