Many resistance training programs include machine and isolation exercises. Machines are great for proper form and building strength, but they lack the ability to target muscles that stabilize joints. Isolation exercises target one muscle group at a time, like the biceps, triceps, or shoulders. They typically involve movement at only one joint. While these exercises are important for muscle growth, a good resistance training program will also include movements that mimic activities performed in daily life. This is why functional training is important. It can be sport specific or improve your ability to perform everyday tasks like climbing stairs, putting things away on shelves, bringing groceries inside or picking up your children.

Functional training is “considered total body, multi-planar movement that requires efficient acceleration, deceleration and stabilization capabilities.” Meaning, movement will occur in every direction as your body works to stabilize and control the movements.

An environment that is unstable but controlled is part of functional training as well. Like doing push-ups with your hands on a stability ball, for instance. Your core and muscles of the rotator cuff will activate to keep your body stable on the ball. Functional training involves compound exercises (exercises that involve movement at more than one joint) such as squatting, deadlifting and lunging. It also includes other pushing, pulling, hip hinging and twisting movements.

Complex movement systems that work together make up the human body. Weakness in one system can lead to muscle imbalance or injury in another system. Functional training trains the body to work as one unit instead of separate components.This is why it’s important in every exercise training program. 

The Optimum Performance Training Model

The Optimum Performance Training (OPT) Model teaches NASM certified personal trainers to incorporate functional training. NASM breaks down the OPT model into five phases. They are stabilization, strength, hypertrophy, maximal strength and power. At it’s foundation are functional exercises.

Functional training will improve your ability to perform activities of daily life with added benefits. You’ll lose fat, increase strength, improve mobility, increase metabolism and keep your bones strong. You need proper form to prevent injuries. Schedule a one-on-one session with our trainers at Fit Focus today to learn more about functional training, the NASM OPT Model and to ensure you use proper form with every exercise you do.

Sydney Vachon. NASM CPT. Personal trainer at Fit Focus Laconia