Functional strength training is all about more than just “bulking up” and looking good at the gym. It can help in your daily life, too! For example, you may have noticed that the ability to carry a heavy bag of groceries from your car into the house requires different strength than picking up an item off the ground.
Though both activities use different muscle groups, carrying groceries involves more core stability, hip flexors (front), and leg muscles (back). Picking up something from the ground, such as a sock or a book, requires more improvements in the back, shoulders, and arms muscles. The training principles used to improve these different muscle groups are not the same.
The work that contributes to each of these different muscle groups is called functional strength training. So what is functional strength? Basically, it means your body has trained itself to adapt quickly and be flexible during movement requiring you to use certain muscles in a certain way (e.g., carrying groceries from your car).
By training with specific, targeted movements, you improve the function of your muscles and thus the way they are used. The result is increased function of all of the muscles involved, which ultimately leads to improved performance in your daily life.
So why is functional strength good for you? For one, it makes your body more adaptable to what’s happening in the outside world!
How do these exercises differ from traditional strength training?
Functional strength training exercises primarily move the joints, and thus the muscles, in a way that improves their function. Traditional strength training exercises primarily move the weight of the object being lifted. This means that traditional strength training does not necessarily improve the function of specific muscles.
However, here are some functional exercises you can try:
These actions are used to stabilize your pelvis (hips). To start with this exercise:
1. Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart.
2. Lift one of your feet off the ground, so it is resting on its toe.
3. Lift the other foot off the ground and place it either in front of the standing foot or behind it, depending on your focus.
Certain muscles will work harder depending upon which way you are facing. This is one exercise that takes some practice to perfect but is very beneficial and worth the effort!
These actions are used to help stabilize both hips and knees while moving a limb.
1. Start this exercise by standing with legs together.
2. Move one leg outward while the other leg stays at a neutral position.
3. Keep the hips in and the chest up. Both hips will move at the same time, not just one.
This exercise is especially beneficial for people with limited hip mobility (i.e., if you have had surgery on your hip, tendinitis in your knee, or arthritis in your knee).
These are actions used to stabilize and move your legs through space. The most common quad exercises include squats, lunges, etc.
These are actions used to stabilize and move your legs through space. The most common ham exercises include deadlifts, leg curls etc.
It’s true that strength training can make your muscles more visible, but when did looking at one’s muscles necessarily make them grow tired of life? If anything, it can give you a motivator to continue living life!
To conclude, functional strength training has proven benefits to your body beyond just improving muscle density. This kind of training can improve your joint protection, help you maintain an optimum level of mobility, and increase your ability to tolerate uncomfortable positions. These benefits make functional strength training a valuable addition to any workout. If you are interested in incorporating functional strength training into your workout routine contact us today!