Visit our archive

Functional Training has finally arrived as part of the common language of gyms.

What is functional training?  It’s a style of training being misunderstood by gyms and gym goers across the country.  It’s been around for ages, but, like

Functional Training is quickly becoming the ‘set of steak knives’ term that clubs and fitness centers alike love to use when referring to their offering of services.

“If you join now, Mrs Johnson, you’ll get the 3 pack of massages, the 2 months of free tanning and access to our VIP functional training area, where function lives and is waiting for you!  Now, spin the wheel to see if you won a small kitten”

Some go so far as to have a functional training area within their space, as if to wander into this special space while doing some traditional walking lunges would end in some form of electrocution or a large hook appearing out of nowhere and yanking you off to stage right. Sadly, functional training has become many things few of which should really be called ‘functional’.  Where I think most gym goers/some trainers go wrong is in their labeling of what is functional, and what is not.

Functional Training:  It’s like Pilates, but with less spandex

Functional training is typically accepted as something that’s going to ‘improve your core’, or ‘straighten out your posture’, or ‘work your body in a more integrated way’.  However, even though I normally take that same stance, I’m going to have to disagree with this position based on the definition of the word ‘function’.

Functional Training is Functional Training is Functional Training

You see, at its purest definition, functional training is really whatever training you’re doing – it’s training for a specific function.  In my mind training becomes functional when you can tell me what function you’re trying to create (or prevent). Dear reader, even bodybuilding is a form of functional training.  It all depends on what function you are CHOOSING to use to take your body through to create a certain outcome.

If I’m looking to give you a movement that will design the biggest muscle by working the target muscle while taking away the need for any other muscle to activate, then that is a function we’re trying to train (and there are many, many workout machines that serve this purpose exactly).

Medicine Balls and Bowling Balls. One prevents you getting fat, the other prevents you getting ladies.

If you want to have so much muscle that if someone ever pushed you over so you landed on your back then you would wriggle around on the floor like a flipped over turtle unable to get up, then that kind of ‘isolated muscle building’ functional training is for you. Let’s take a stand right now and break it down into 3 definitions of functional training.  Just to show how fair I am, I’m going to call ‘bodybuilding’ or ‘muscle growth’ training by its spiritual name of ‘traditional functional training’

Traditional Functional Training

Pretty much 90% of what you read in any bodybuilding magazine ever.  Exercises that use machine-based systems that are simple enough so people are able to follow along just from looking at the fancy pictures on the machines, including some other exercises that require to hold other joints steady and only move one joint or a minimal number of joints steady at a time.  A popular low-cost easy way to get your training in if things aren’t important to you like real world movement,sports related results or just being able to move smoothly and efficiently in general.

But if prime grade beef is what you’re looking to slap onto your body, there’s not really a faster way to get it (you may get muscle or two tear from the bone in the process, but hey, you can’t make an omelet without breaking some joints… I mean eggs).

End of part 1.

Yours in health,

Jamie Atlas

To see what ‘non-traditional functional training’ and ‘movement-based functional training’ is, why not subscribe to us then you’ll know when the rest is posted online?

Come on!  You know that one time just before Christmas when you subscribed to receive updates from that crappy department store when you bought that top that didn’t even fit you that you couldn’t be bothered to send back… How could this be any less useful to you than knowing when plaid skirts are on sale?  Just click the button below and then you’ll know when part 2 gets posted!

  • Ironman Jun 28, 2012 Reply

    Can you prove that medicine balls actually prevent getting fat? If I buy one right now… I won’t ever get fat? Like an amulet that protects the bearer from the dark sinister demons of fatness…

    • jamieatlas Jun 28, 2012 Reply

      can’t do that mate, sorry to disappoint you. However, if you were to duct tape one to your hands that might make for an interesting weight loss strategy 🙂

  • Tom H Jun 29, 2012 Reply

    good morning Jamie..good to see you haven’t forgotten me..

    • jamieatlas Jul 1, 2012 Reply

      No chance of that happening mate. Your legend still lives on strong around here 🙂

  • Name (Required)

  • Email (Required, but not published)

  • Url (Optional)

  • Comment (Required)