Is Functional Training Effective?

Is Functional Training Effective?

We often hear the term functional training without really knowing what it is. We believe that many people hesitate – aren’t all training functional? 

I am here to introduce you to the world of functional training, also known as training with your own body, to present its benefits and why you should choose it among the sea of ​​other activities.

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Quick Summary

  • Functional training is a type of training that prepares our body to perform daily tasks.
  • Functional exercises are great for strengthening core strength, endurance, resistance, and body movement.
  • Functional exercises target many different muscle groups and teach your body to work as one.

Does Functional Training Work?

Yes, functional training works for practically everyone. Unlike other activities, functional training does not build one muscle group at a specific moment. 

On the contrary, more muscle groups are involved during this type of training than in the weights training. Functional training makes your body work as one during practice.

Because multiple muscle groups participate in the exercise together, functional training improves your coordination and nerve control abilities.

6 Benefits of Functional Training

There are numerous benefits of functional training. I have selected the most important ones for you below.

1. Improved Movement Patterns 

Functional training forces the exercises to occupy a more significant number of muscles. Therefore, functional training is based on lifting, pushing, jumping, carrying, walking, and similar physical actions that occupy several muscle groups [1].

For example, when we do a bench press, our chest muscles, triceps, and other muscles in our arms work.

During one workout, you will have the opportunity to work several muscle groups, which is excellent for those who don’t have that much time to spend in the gym.

2. Improved Movement Efficiency

Because we train several parts of the body simultaneously and work to make them participate in physical activities together, we increase movement efficiency[2].

Imagine having to lift a heavy suitcase. If you have experience with functional training, this lift will be similar to a deadlift, and your muscles in the back, legs, and arms will participate in the lifting together. If you bend down badly and drag a heavy suitcase with only your hands, you will lose a lot more strength and possibly injure yourself.

Therefore, functional training increases the efficiency of our movements.

3. Improved Physical Appearance

Functional training is different from bulking or strength training because it actually teaches us how our body works and how to be one system in which everything works perfectly. [3

Therefore, this type of training brings physical appearance in the long run. If you do it right, all parts of your body will be evenly developed.

4. Improved Coordination and Mobility

Functional training is most important because it increases your coordination and mobility [4]. Your body does a vast range of movements during this training, and the muscles you target with the exercise in the starting and ending positions of the practice are stretched.

Functional training gives us strength, but more importantly, it builds our resistance. The exercises you do build strength and endurance, leading to practical improvements in your posture. After taking this type of training, after some time, it will be much easier for you to carry out your daily activities.

5. Increased Calorie Burn 

Functional training burns a lot more calories than other types of training. Research has shown that short, high-intensity workouts burn far more calories and fat than long, low-intensity workouts.[5]

Because in this type of training, several muscle groups are used at once, many more calories are consumed. If you want to lose extra pounds or fat, then you are in the right place! 5. 

6. Increased Lean Muscle Mass 

Functional training increases lean body mass. Since these pieces of training work on the principle of using the whole body and consuming a large number of calories, they also lead to an increase in lean muscle mass and an athletic appearance.[6]

What Is the Goal of Functional Training?

The goal of functional training is to strengthen your body to withstand everyday life.

First, we should ask ourselves why we decided to train in the first place. You can achieve practically all the goals you want to accomplish with functional training.

The three goals you can achieve with functional training are:

To look better – as we have already said, this type of activity gives you an athletic look, creates lean muscle mass, and develops all muscles at the same time, equally.

To feel better – functional training is highly intense, and you can release all your frustrations during this type of training and feel better after it.

Perform better – This is why you should choose functional training. It increases your core strength, body endurance, and mobility [7].

How to Define Functional Training?

Functional training is a type of training that helps us perform everyday activities. It is based on short, high-intensity workouts that burn many calories and fat and are great for those who don’t regularly go to the gym. It functions according to the principle of exercises that affect several muscle groups. 

The most common movements we encounter in functional training are lifting, walking, pushing, and other natural actions we do every day.

We often don’t even realize that we do functional training every day, from squatting when tying shoelaces to picking up grocery bags. It’s all functional training.

Functional Training Movements

Basic exercises we learned during elementary school, such as squats and push-ups, belong to the group of functional training exercises. 

The most important thing before functional training is a quality warm-up and stretching. If we enter functional training without adequate stretching, we risk injuring ourselves.

Some of the most famous, recommended by fitness trainers, are:

  • Push-ups – an excellent functional exercise that builds strength and strengthens the lower back, arms, chest, and shoulders.
  • Walking lunges – a great exercise to build leg muscles, like the quadriceps, gluteus, and hip muscles in general.
  • Jump squats – excellent exercise for increasing core strength in the legs, which gives us explosiveness when moving and increases body movement. It is even better when you jump on the elevated surface!
  • Lateral bounds (running from side to side) – one of the crucial exercises that helps train power production.
  • Jumping jacks – Besides being the best way to lose calories, it is a bodyweight exercise that improves heart rate and endurance.
  • Unilateral exercises – excellent exercise to avoid imbalance in muscle building and body posture.


How Many Calories Do You Burn in Functional Training?

In functional training, you burn 400 to 600 calories during one training session. But, it is not entirely defined how many calories you can burn during functional training. Calorie consumption depends on training intensity, weight, and other factors.

Is Functional Training Better Than Weights?

Functional training is much better than training with weights for those who don’t have that much time to go to the gym and do isolation exercises for each muscle group individually. Also, it is better because we can more easily apply it in everyday activities. It gives our core muscles a strong base for doing everyday chores, like carrying groceries or lifting furniture to clean.

How Many Times a Week Should I Do Functional Training?

You should do functional training at least 2-3 times a week. Functional training recreates our daily movements, so we can do them more often without fear of injury.

Why Is Functional Training Necessary?

Functional training is the best way to increase your core strength, endurance-strength, and body mobility. Exercises that insist on using multiple muscle groups at once will increase your body’s nervous coordination.

In addition, this type of functional exercises helps you to carry out the daily tasks that day brings. If you have a lot of work and don’t have much time for exercise, and you want to look good, lose weight or maintain your body condition, then functional training should be your first choice!

Let us know in the comments below your experience with functional training.

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Vanja Vukas

Student at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education and a hardcore functional training enthusiast. Heavily inspired by Michael Boyle, a strength & conditioning specialist, and by Adam Sinicki, the founder of Bioneer. Vanja believes that transitioning to a movement-based exercise program can drastically improve your fitness, balance out your muscles, and support your current lifestyle.

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