Functional training is a very practical approach to fitness. The focus is on improving your body’s ability to effectively perform everyday movements like bending, twisting, and lifting. Simply put, a functional workout strengthens your body in a way that allows you to perform daily activities with ease and without fear of injury — something that becomes increasingly important as we get older. 

Let’s dive into the details of functional training, including its many benefits, the types of exercises it entails, and how you can incorporate functional fitness into your workout routine.

What are the benefits of functional training?

Functional training offers a wide range of benefits that can improve your overall strength and well-being, including: 

  • Improved everyday function: Functional training focuses on movements that mimic real-life activities, making daily tasks like lifting, bending, and reaching easier and safer.
  • Enhanced strength and stability: By engaging multiple muscle groups at the same time, functional exercises build muscle strength, and that improves your stability.
  • Better balance and coordination: Functional training incorporates movements that challenge balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
  • Injury prevention: By promoting proper movement patterns, functional training helps prevent injuries during both exercise and daily activities.
  • Increased core strength: Many functional exercises require core engagement, leading to improved core strength and stability, which is essential for maintaining posture and reducing back pain.
  • Time efficiency: Functional exercises involve compound movements, targeting multiple areas in one session, leading to a more time-efficient workout routine.
  • Adaptability: Functional training can be adapted to various fitness levels and can be easily modified to accommodate specific needs or goals.

What exercises can I do as part of functional training?

A functional workout typically consists of compound exercises: movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, like squats, lunges, and push-ups. Instead of working one muscle in isolation, like many machines do, they challenge multiple muscle groups at the same time. For example, a squat works your glutes, quads, adductors and core. A push-up activates your chest, shoulders, back and core. Functional exercises are done using your body weight or with free weights such as dumbbells, kettlebells, and battle ropes, instead of machines.

Compound exercises are important as they mimic our natural movement patterns. We very rarely use one muscle in isolation. Most movements we make work multiple muscles together, whether it’s bending down to tie your shoelace or reaching up to grab something from a high shelf. When you train multiple muscle groups at the same time, you’re working to help your body move better as a whole. Additionally, you’re preventing straining one singular muscle and causing injury.  

Does this mean I shouldn’t work any muscles in isolation?

If you’re healthy and generally looking to improve strength and fitness, most of your strength workouts should consist of compound exercises. However, isolation exercises are very useful if you’re looking to strengthen a particular muscle group in order to address a weakness, support an injury, or improve stability in a certain joint. For example, a knee injury may require you to work on very specific muscles around the knee in order to support the joint.

Tips for getting started with functional training

With a focus on improving your ability to perform daily activities with ease, functional training really is for everyone. If you’re new to functional training (or training in general), here are some tips to help you kickstart your fitness journey: 

  • Start with the basics. Begin with fundamental functional movements like squats, lunges, push-ups and planks. Focus on mastering these movements before progressing to more complex exercises.
  • Gradually increase the intensity. Start with lighter weights and lower resistance, gradually increasing the intensity as your strength and confidence grow.
  • Enlist a personal trainer. Working with a personal trainer, is a great way to learn the proper form for functional exercises, build your confidence in the gym, and achieve your unique fitness goals.
  • Join a group exercise class. Group classes can help you ease into functional training in a fun and motivational setting. David Lloyd Clubs offer a diverse range of functional fitness classes, for all abilities.  

Get into functional training at David Lloyd Clubs

Check out all the functional fitness classes, available at David Lloyd Clubs and find your local club, to get started. Join us at David Lloyd Clubs and unlock your full potential through the transformative power of functional training!