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Functional Strength Training: Everything You Need To Know

Learn all about the benefits of functional strength training and how it could be key to making life easier for all.

What is Functional Training?

“Functional strength training is purposeful training that improves your preparedness for everyday life, sport, or work,” said Dave Connor, a fitness coach at the adidas HQ gym. Everyone works out for different reasons. It could be to get stronger, achieve aesthetic goals, or to feel healthier. But training specifically for everyday functionality can make life a little easier. Seemingly basic motions like picking up furniture, balancing on one foot while putting a shoe on, or squatting down to pick something up are movements that can get easier when you train in a functional way.

Is Functional Training the Same as Strength Training?

“Strength training is functional training, but functional training is not necessarily strength training,” said Connor. “Your performance improvements will be determined by the style of training you do.” One way to understand how functional strength training works is to imagine a professional skier. To get stronger for skiing, the athlete might incorporate weighted squat jumps for enhanced power and force absorption. They might also do lateral single-leg hops to strengthen their ankle stability and train their balance. These are exercises that benefit anyone, but they also specifically benefit the skier’s movements for the slope. Similarly, it’s the same way performing a farmer’s walk exercise trains you for carrying bags of groceries into your home with ease. So really, a lot of strength exercises fit into the category of functional strength training—but to be considered functional, they must reflect your end goals.

Formats of Functional Strength Training

All training is functional to some degree, therefore it can be done in a variety of formats. If your goal is to increase your aerobic stamina, then your functional training could involve sprinting on a bike for short intervals to create a HIIT session. If you’d like to increase your strength, it could take the form of circuits where you’re performing rounds of weightlifting. Or it could be a bodyweight workout comprised of timed intervals that test your balance, strength, and cardio.

Benefits of Functional Strength Training

Reduced risk of injury

When you need to lift something heavy or jump out of the way, your muscles will be ready for it after consistent functional training and you’ll have a lower risk of injury. 

Improved form during everyday movements

Because you’re increasing your strength and training similar everyday movements, you’ll understand proper form to be able to do the moves with more control and confidence. 

Improved longevity

With enough functional strength training throughout your life, you’ll be spry and healthy well into your later years. This matters in the long run to be able to keep up with your loved ones and feel good in your body for as long as possible.

All The benefits of classic strength training

Endorphins, increased metabolism, improved strength—you get all of these exercise benefits from functional strength training. 
Overall, approaching your strength workouts from a functional perspective will help you get the most out of your workouts while improving fitness and health. “Literally everyone can benefit from strength training,” said Connor. “The functionality of the specific training you participate in depends on who you are, what you do, where you are in your life journey, and who is guiding you.” Learn more about different styles of training and get inspired with complete workouts on the adidas blog.