23% of people exercise regularly to ensure they continue to lead a healthy lifestyle. With that being said, the beauty of working out is you’re able to find exercises that fit your personal needs. 

If you’re looking for a way to increase your strength while also working your functional muscles, functional strength training is the way to go. What is functional strength training? 

We’ve created a guide about functional fitness exercises that has the answers you’re looking for. Read on below, and get ready to add a new functional fitness routine to your cycle of exercises. 

Functional Strength Training vs Traditional Strength Training 

Many people that begin functional strength training often confuse it with the traditional way of strength training. Functional training refers to the type of training that focuses on the muscles you use to do everyday things. 

It helps you to strengthen these muscles to improve your overall efficiency. Functional strength training isn’t only specifically to improve the way you walk or stand, as it’s also beneficial for athletes. 

Functional training ensures you build muscle without having to lift heavy. Strength training comes in several forms. 

The traditional means of strength training involves training isolated muscle groups and working until the muscle tears. When you train in the traditional sense, you typically perform three to five sets of exercises and progressively increase your weight with each set. 

Traditional strength training incorporated a series of repetitive movements, including: 

One day you train a specific group of muscles and the next day you train another set of muscles. Unlike traditional training, functional training allows you to use a more extensive list of equipment to complete each exercise. 

The Comparison: More Details

With functional strength training, you can use equipment such as: 

This is beneficial, especially for people that don’t have access to a gym in their area. These pieces of equipment can be used in the comfort of your home.  

Another key difference you’ll find from traditional to functional training is when you’re focusing on functional training you use multiple muscle groups at one time. For example, you could combine lunges which is a leg exercise with push ups that focus on shoulder and ab work. 

You can take any combination of exercises and increase the level of complexity in which you perform them. Lastly, functional training can be performed in or out of the traditional gym setting as mentioned above. 

Now that you know what the differences are between the two forms of strength training it’s time to get into the benefits of having a functional fitness routine. 

Increase in Calories Burned 

To consume a liter of oxygen the body must burn five calories of energy. When you use more muscle groups at once throughout a workout you increase the amount of oxygen you need which in turn helps you to burn more calories. 

This is when the complexity of functional training becomes more apparent. For example, you’ll burn calories doing a seated row. But you’ll burn more calories if you do a standing squat into a row. 

As you complete the complex movement you can add weight if needed and increase the speed at which you perform the exercises. 

Better Aerobic Capacity 

In terms of cardio HIIT or high-intensity interval training can fall under the functional training umbrella. HIIT training is performing various exercises during a timed period for several rounds. 

For example, if you perform a Tabata style HIIT workout you do interval cycles for thirty minutes. When you enter each interval cycle perform the exercises at the highest intensity you can. 

As you continue to perform this form of workout throughout the week you’re improving your aerobic capacity. This means you’re also increasing your endurance and extending the time it takes you to become exhausted. 

Better Body Coordination 

The more you continue to make functional strength training a part of your exercise routine the better your dexterity becomes. Functional strength training reduces the risk of becoming injured by improving your body’s mobility and coordination. 

Mobility allows you to control your movements by practicing a range of motion exercises. When you shorten the muscles on one side of your body it lengthens the muscles on the opposite side. 

The more you stretch these muscles on each side of your body the more strength and mobility will continue to increase, therefore improving your mobility. Not only does it increase your body’s mobility, but it also improves your muscle coordination. 

During functional training, because you use multiple muscle groups you’re strengthening them and forcing them to work together to keep you balanced. In the beginning, this might prove challenging but as you become strong, remaining balanced no matter the exercise you’re doing becomes easier. 

Leaner Muscle Mass 

One of the main concerns people have when they enter a weight loss program is that as they lose weight they’ll use the muscle mass they’ve worked so hard for. This is a concern you won’t have when you’re training your functional muscles. 

As you continue to improve the strength of your muscles and shed weight, you’ll uncover a leaner physique. Your type II muscle fibers are responsible for muscle definition and improved strength. 

However, you’ve got to work out these fibers as a regular part of your workouts. If you don’t, you risk losing the muscle gains you’ve worked hard to acquire. 

Loss of gains can slow down the process of reaching your weight loss goals. It doesn’t make it impossible, but you’d have to restart building back the muscle definition you’ve lost and maintain it as you move forward. 

Again, to activate and engage these muscle fibers HIIT is a crucial form of training. When you perform low-intensity exercises, the fibers aren’t active. When you work with a certified personal trainer, you can create a plan that minimizes muscle degradation and helps you maintain your strength as you continue to get older

Functional Training Tips 

Functional training is the perfect form of exercise for people that are new to exercise. It combines everyday movements to improve your coordination and mobility. 

Before you jump into functional training, there are some tips you can use to make the most of each exercise session you participate in. These tips are going to help you make the most of your training while also deepening your understanding of this form of exercise and bringing you closer to achieving your weight loss goals. 

Start Small 

It’s never a good idea to jump into complex exercises because you risk injuring yourself. Functional training can be used as a beneficial aspect of recovering from injuries. 

Even if you don’t have an injury you’re recovering from, you need to start your exercise training off slowly. If you want to start slow but don’t understand how to, you should begin by separating movements. 

For example, if you’re doing a deadlift into a squat instead of doing both together, focus on doing one at a time. Learn how to properly perform a squat and deadlift separately. 

As you become more comfortable with each movement, you can move forward by pairing the two together. Remember, it’s better to slow down and focus on form than to go full speed and injure yourself because you didn’t perform the movement properly. 

Setting Limits Is Okay 

It’s common for people to compare themselves to others around them, especially when you’re exercising surrounded by a group of people. For example, you might be performing the same exercise as someone next to you but you’re lifting a different weight. 

To keep up with people around you, it would be easy to add more weight even though you know you shouldn’t. Pushing yourself past your limits isn’t smart and has nothing but negative repercussions. 

You’ve got to know what your limits are and stick to them no matter what. Understanding your limits doesn’t mean they’ll remain your limits forever. 

It means you understand your starting point and can increase what you’re able to tolerate moving forward. Setting your limits will also be beneficial as you set your weight loss goals. 

The more consistent you remain while working out, the closer you get to achieving the goals you’ve set. When you achieve your current goals, you can then set future goals and determine the best way to reach them. 

Focus on Your Technique 

With any form of exercise, your technique is key. The technique you use throughout your training is essential to the results you hope to gain. 

For example, if you’re doing pushups and your hands aren’t in the right place or your back isn’t straight, you’re not doing them correctly. By doing it this way, you risk causing problems with your shoulders and lower back. 

If you’re not able to do push ups in the traditional sense, you can decrease the level of difficulty and move to doing pushups on your knees. This allows you to focus on keeping your hands in the right place and performing a push up with your back straight. 

Set Goals to Achieve 

Do you want to gain more power when you step onto the playing field to compete? Are you looking to increase your muscle definition? 

The best first step in functional training is to set the goals you wish to achieve. Setting goals helps you to push yourself during times when you’re feeling unmotivated. 

Another reason to set goals is to make it easier for a personal trainer to help craft a workout specifically made for you. For example, if you’re a swimmer you’re not going to have the same fitness requirements that a basketball player would have. 

You use a different group of muscles to propel yourself through the water versus needing to jump in the air to grab a rebound. 

Functional Exercise Tips 

Here are some tips that will help you with the various exercises you perform during functional fitness training sessions. Squats are a common exercise you’ll practice. 

When you’re doing squats are your heels coming off the floor? Do your knees extend past your ankles? 

If so it’s time to work on your form. It’s okay if you’re not able to go into a deep squat. The more you practice the better your hip mobility will become, making it easier to get deeper into your squat without sacrificing your form. 

Overhead presses are another exercise you’ll find yourself performing often during strength training sessions. However, one common issue is allowing your elbows to fall below your shoulder blade when performing the movement. 

The best way to improve your form while doing overhead presses is to stand with your back against a wall. Hold your arms above your head and bring them down until your elbows make a 90-degree angle. 

While you’re standing against the wall it’ll become easier to identify if you’re performing the movement properly. Are your arms coming forward instead of straight up and down? 

Are you moving stiffly? 

What Is Functional Strength Training? Now You Know

What is functional strength training? Is it the same as traditional training? The answer is no, it’s not. Functional strength training allows you to practice everyday movements while shedding weight and increasing your muscle strength. 

If you don’t know how to start training on your own it’s beneficial to seek help from a personal trainer. The trainer will be there with you every step of the way and remind you of the proper form to use while doing exercises. 

Looking for a place to train and get stronger? Join Results Fitness and find a way to a better life.