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|Functional Training - Basic|
The latest craze to hit the fitness and sports conditioning world is functional training. Functional training is slowly making its way into mainstream fitness, but is still relatively new to most athletes and exercise enthusiasts. A brief historic view will facilitate an understanding of our traditional beliefs in regards to performance training.
Back in the 1960s, Universal and Nautilus created and aggressively marketed resistance-training machines. These resistance-training machines claimed to provide a superior training stimulus due to their ability to isolate muscle. This movement towards muscle isolation gave birth to the current bodybuilding model of training most people use today (i.e. muscle building through the isolation of muscles). The bodybuilding model has enjoyed some success in the performance enhancement arena and has become synonymous with weight training. However, the aesthetic emphasis of bodybuilding has not optimized many performance parameters to the satisfaction of many coaches, athletes and individuals looking for better function. Therefore, weight training has not enjoyed popularity with many individuals who fear developing a “muscle-bound,” inflexible and slow physique.
The last decade has seen a resurgence of a more holistic approach to physical conditioning; it has been coined “Functional Training”. Functional training is not a new concept; it has been around since the beginning of time. The main distinction between functional training and bodybuilding training is that functional training trains movements, not isolated muscles. Functional training works on the concept of “specificity”. The concept of “specificity”dictates that you get what you train for: if you train complex movements, you get better at moving; if you train one muscle, that muscle gets bigger. In simple terms, if one wants to get better and stronger at an activity, one would instinctively rehearse the activity, or at least parts of that activity. In sports we always say, the best training for a particular sport, is that sport! Although this is an oversimplification of the concept of functional training, it is its essence.
Functional training is now the new buzz phrase in the fitness and performance enhancement industry. It has become popular because of its main premise, training movements not muscles. Functional training more closely mimics the movements one is trying to improve, whether it is picking up a child, running, or a golf swing. This movement training approach provides many benefits; let’s take a look at some of them.
All of these benefits go along with one of the best features of functional training – it’s safe, effective,and fun. Instead of sitting on a bunch of machines and doing three sets of ten repetitions on each,functional training creates a playground-type training environment. Imagine training with bright colored medicine balls, bands, balance equipment, stability balls, weights, bodyweight exercises and many other modalities. This training approach can be tailored to all fitness levels, from the senior population to the elite athletics.
Functional training addresses all of the training needs of today’s fitness or health consumer. For those wishing to lose some weight,functional training is an excellent way to kick your cardio training and caloric burn into higher gear, while developing a muscular body that performs as well as it looks. For those rehabilitating an injury, functional training is the best choice for accelerated rehabilitation. Better yet,functional training can greatly reduce the likelihood of an injury ever occurring. For the athlete or weekend warrior, functional training is the newest and fastest way to enhance performance with half the work volume (i.e. weight lifted) of more traditional methods.
We are very excited to be the pioneers of this method of training and look forward to sharing our upcoming research findings with the fitness industry. Our preliminary data show that the incorporation of functional training into a training program can yield superior results to traditional bodybuilding or machine-based training.The future is bright in the field of fitness and we at Institute of Human Performance (IHP) will continue to bring you the latest in functional training innovations.