“Functional training” a tremendous popular term we hear personal trainers throw around in any fitness setting, but just like “core training” the concept of functional training or functional fitness is nothing new. In fact, our early ancestors relied on physical endurance, agility, balance, core strength, proprioceptive awareness, neuromuscular coordination, and other functional fitness attributes to eat and live. This requirement has changed significantly as the high-tech revolution eliminated many challenging multi-directional physical work tasks. The result has been an increased incidence of work-related repetitive strain and cumulative trauma injuries, and inadequate whole-body conditioning to carry out many real-life activities. Functional training focusing on activities requiring multi-directional movements (transverse plane) and the simultaneous coordination of a variety of muscle groups, may prevent some of these injuries and provide a stronger base of conditioning for undertaking various life and recreational activities.
Typical resistance training workouts using selectorized weight machines and cardio sessions tend to isolate muscle groups and challenge them with single plane or linear movements. Thus, although excellent for promoting health benefits and developing a base of conditioning, such workouts fall short of training the body for the multi-directional movements required for many common life activities. Simple equipment such as kettlebells, sandbags, slammer balls, are excellent tools in executing and mimicking some of these multi-directional movement patterns.
Participation in some sort of functional training/multi-dimensional training program will help minimize declines in functional strength, coordination, balance, and many other functional attributes associated with “living”. Annually, numerous people incur severe injuries because of trips and falls. Many of these events could be prevented by including patterns of movement in a training program that develop kinesthetic awareness, body control, and balance.