It is about getting stronger across your body’s movement patterns, rather than just body parts.
It improves athletic qualities like strength, power, stability and mobility. That gives it huge carry over to sport.
It’s not just for sports performance or athletes either.
Functional strength training is for anyone who values health and performance over just appearance. It improves movement and resilience for everyday life
It’s an increasingly popular weight training style. (And that’s a good thing.)
What are the origins of functional strength training?
Despite its slow adoption by mainstream fitness, functional strength training is not a new concept.
Strength and conditioning coaches have trained athletes this way for decades. There are two main goals: enhance athletic performance and decrease risk of injury.
In sport, athletes often need to absorb and express force in different directions and planes of movement. Functional strength training prepares them for this.
It is widely agreed that there are 6 human movements:
Balanced and well-structured programming increases strength across each movement. There are different exercises within each movement category to do just that.
Is functional strength training just for athletes?
No, it really is for everyone. It is the most healthy and sustainable way to build your body.
It prepares you for the demands of life. You might not be aware of it, but you are squatting, hinging, lunging, pushing and pulling things every single day.
That’s why they are called “human” movements.
When you develop strength across these movements, they become easier to perform in your everyday life. No more struggling to lift that sofa or carry those grocery bags. No more knee pain when you lunge to pick something up off the floor.
This also means that if you do sport or enjoy any physical hobbies, be it hiking, tennis or something more extreme, you’ll perform better. It will also protect against common niggles and injuries that crop up.
In the process, you will also build a stronger, more athletic physique.
It’s become more and more popular for middle aged and older adults who want to be strong and resilient for life.
What are the core benefits of functional strength training?
Correct muscle imbalances
There’s a great saying:
“If we train muscles we will forget movements, but if we train movements we will never forget muscles”
Many lifters unknowingly train in an unbalanced way. They choose exercises that work the front side of the body. The “show” muscles like the chest, and quads.
This neglects posterior chain muscles such as the back, glutes and hamstrings. These muscles then become weaker than their front facing colleagues. Those imbalances can hinder joint health as well as muscle and strength development.
You do not have this problem with functional strength training. It’s perfectly balanced. Every muscle group gets their fair share of work and the body develops evenly.
Build “functional” muscle and strength
Functional strength training prioritises free weight, compound exercises that have the best bang for your buck.
These are examples:
- Split squats
- Romanian deadlifts
- Dumbbell presses
Exercises like those pack on strength and lean muscle mass and improve your movement. You get the best of “show” and “go” muscles.
Become more athletic
Athletes have used functional strength training for decades to build:
- strength relative to body weight
- explosive power
- joint stability
Even if you are not a competitive athlete, there is no reason you can’t use it for that too.
Make gains you can sustain
The exercise volume needed to build and maintain functional strength is moderate and sustainable. 2-3 workouts per week are ample…4 will work too if you just love this stuff.
You can (and should) be able to train like this for the rest of your life. This is because it works the body in the way it was designed.
Where can you find a Functional Strength Program?
Ready to build your functional strength? Download PRGRM and choose a programs to follow that fits your goals and needs. The simple, effective concept of functional strength training is central to all of them.
It’s the best way to train if you’re looking to build a physique that’s:
- Strong and athletic
- Resilient to injury and aging
- Functional for anything that life throws at you.