Ok, that’s a little over the top, but I think you guessed the topic: “Functional training” is a new term so commonly used and easily thrown around the gym; yet when asked, can people really give you a definition.

The word “function” is a known English word, Wikipedia states:

“Generally, functional refers to something able to fulfill its purpose or function.”

So how can this refer to training in the gym, why is this a good form of exercise and is it going to give you a real work out?

Functional training isn’t something new, it has been around since the beginning of time, just without a name and a lot of fancy branded products. It is only now that sports scientists have researched the true benefits of this method of training, and why it is essential to each and every one of us. The term stems from injury rehabilitation training where physiotherapists need to reinstate the body’s necessary tools, for a person to go back to their normal state.

The meaning of functional training, is in fact a very broad one, it can include ANY form of exercise that will assist the body in performing a FUNCTION. This could be with balance, power, strength, mobility, cardiovascular, endurance, flexibility, co-ordination, ANYTHING. An older person may need to regain grip strength to open a jar and balance to prevent a fall; a young athlete may need power to compete and mobility to prevent injury. The entire fitness spectrum can be seen as “functional training” if training is undergone for reasons relating to a person’s life, giving the exercise purpose, a “function”.

Commonly, when the term is used in gyms it is referring to an exercise that encourages the person to move naturally with their body, developing something that will aid them in every day life. Usually this involves more than one muscle group, an exercise with more than one move or over more than one plane of movement. Equipment such as kettlebells, TRX (suspension training systems), powerbags, ViPr, cable machines and others, have been created to be used in this way; but it is also possible to use free weight and body weight exercises.

An example would be a squat and press – this 2 part exercise is using a move such as a squat to train the muscles needed to sit, lift, walk, etc; then the press is using muscles needed to reach, push, grab, etc. Therefore this is relevant and helpful in everyday life.


No matter how you train, it is important to improve the body to be more functional for YOUR life. Always think logically before training and ask a professional if you need help.

Asalaamu Alaykum all ❤

Safiyah Esack – 10/06/2013

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