Functional Training for Beginners: A Helpful Guide
What is Functional Training?
Functional Training refers to exercises that help us perform our regular movements and activities outside of the gym in our everyday lives. Often focusing on stability and core strength, these compound muscle exercises work out multiple muscle groups at once that help us to perform our daily actions better.
For example, some everyday actions that most people repeatedly use in their daily lives are reaching, squatting, twisting, and carrying heavy objects. Functional exercises help us to mirror these actions, increasing our stamina, flexibility, and endurance for these daily actions. When we participate in functional training, we are reducing our chances of injury and increasing our performance for when we execute these actions in our lives.
Read on to learn all you need to know about functional training for beginners.
What are the Benefits of Functional Training Workouts?
The benefits of functional training are endless! While functional training doesn’t sound as intense or shiny as other gym terminology, it actually remains one of the most important kinds of exercise that anyone can do. Here are just a few important benefits of functional strength training:
Increasing Your Stability and Balance
Having a stable and balanced body empowers us to tackle the movements necessary for all other actions that we take. A lot of functional training exercises that prioritize our stability and balance generally focus on improving our core strength, which also helps improve our balance.
Decreasing Your Risk of Injury
When we repeat movements that we routinely perform in our daily lives through functional training, we are supplementing the stamina and endurance of our bodies. By increasing our strength through functional training, we can continue to perform our routine actions without any additional risk of injury. For example, if your job requires that you must be able to lift heavy objects but you don’t have the stamina and strength to do so, you could seriously injure yourself or others around you. Performing functional training exercises like a lateral shuffle bar pick up or a squat to shoulder press, would help you to maintain your body’s ability to lift heavy objects while increasing your performance and reducing the chance of serious injury
Improving Body Mobility and Coordination
When we participate in exercises that help us perform activities in our daily lives, we will notice that this also improves our mobility and coordination. One of the incredible side effects of exercising is that when we build strength and stability through functional training, we aren’t just assisting in the efficiency of the targeted actions that we want to improve upon. Our increased muscle mass, balance, and endurance will help us with all areas of our lives! We will be able to move with more ease, and increase our coordination as we continue to maintain a healthy body through exercise.
What are Some Functional Training Exercises for Beginners?
Everyone starts somewhere! And the beginning is a wonderful place to start. There are several functional fitness training exercises for beginners. Here are a few of our favorite exercises specifically geared towards beginners, although anyone and everyone can benefit from these fantastic exercises. To view more recommended intermediate functional movement exercises, click here.
Perhaps one of the most classic exercises in history, the squat is a foundation of many workout routines across all fitness levels. Squatting significantly helps us in our daily lives – just think about how often you rise from a chair or have to squat down to grab something! Squats can be weighted, or you can simply use your body weight. Squatting works out the abdominals, glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
How to Squat
Stand straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart. You can leave your arms down at your sides, or bring your hands together against your chest in a praying motion with your fingers interlocked.
Flex your core muscles and push your hips backward, pretending like you are going to sit down in a chair.
Make sure that your chest and back stay firmly straight up while bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Still ensuring your core is flexed, push back up to the standing position that you began in. Repeat as needed.
The Glute Bridge
This is another easy exercise that assists you in building the muscle groups that are frequently used in our daily lives. The glute bridge works the glutes, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles.
How to Do a Glute Bridge
Lay down flat on the floor with your back down and your knees bent. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your arms should be by your sides with your palms pressed flat against the floor.
As you inhale, lift your hips upwards as you push through the soles of your feet. Flex your glutes, abdominals, and hamstrings as you do this for maximum muscle engagement.
When your hips are high, pause (hold longer for more of a burn) and release by returning to the start position. Repeat as needed.
Another classic exercise, a pushup helps us to build crucial muscles in our upper body that help with many of our routine actions such as lifting, pushing, and holding. Pushup exercises workout the triceps, anterior deltoids, and the pectoral muscles.
How to Do a Pushup
While down on all fours, get into a high plank position with your hands a bit wider than shoulder length apart. Set your gaze to be looking slightly ahead.
Bend your elbows at a 45 degree angle and roll your shoulders back to lower down until your chest is nearly touching the floor.
Push back up using the palms of your hands to your starting position. Repeat as needed.
Where Can I Do Functional Training Exercises?
The great thing about functional training exercises is that you can do them anywhere, at any time. You don’t even need to be in the gym for these! Many of these exercises can simply be performed using your own body weight as well, unless you prefer to add weights for more strength training. Our gyms have everything you need to perform functional training exercises and more in a safe, controlled environment. Our staff members are informative and kind, and always willing to lend a helping hand should you have further questions or need any advice.