I recently read an article which highlighted the benefits that functional training has to everyone, no matter what their goal. Our bodies are designed to move, so the way in which we do these movements really does make a huge difference. Functional training involves movements which work the whole body in a vertical, horizontal and rotational plane. Adding these moves to our workout programme helps the body practice our everyday movement patterns under extra load, repetitions or resistance, whilst focusing on keeping good form and control.
The benefits this has for us is leading to better joint mobility and stability as well as more efficient motor patterns such as balance. Relationships between nervous and musculoskeletal systems improve allowing our muscles to remember and perform movement much easier the more we do them. This training benefits everyone in different ways. For the youth it teaches them good balance and co-ordination, older populations keeps them moving and joints mobile, while athletes can perform there actions with strong powerful techniques at the best chance of avoiding injuries.
Areas of the body that become most effected through functional training is the core. This is where all the force transfer is passed from left to right or lower body to upper body. Good stabilization through the core allows us to deal with external forces and keeping the body stable. This is good practice for everyday movements such as walking up and down the stairs, picking something up of the floor or changing direction when walking.
When training for sports we can mimic our techniques through functional movement. For example to create extra power in the golf swing we can perform a med ball pass, we use the extra weight of the medicine ball to train our glutes to stabilize keeping the body still and abdominals and obliques to explosively rotate passing the medicine ball as far as we can. Then when we go to do the same with a golf club, much lighter object, the extra power is easier to produce.
Some good functional training exercises which can be done at home are Russian twist, Squat shoulder press and Burpees.