If you read much about fitness, you may have been seeing and wondering about the terms Functional Gym or Functional Training. What exactly do these mean?
To understand this concept, think about a traditional simple exercise, such as the bicep curl. We isolate one specific muscle group, the bicep muscle, and work this muscle alone. But in the real world, this isolated muscle motion rarely occurs. Instead, we usually employ multiple muscle groups acting upon multiple joints as we bend and twist and move.
A good illustrative example would be to consider the act of chopping wood. Close your eyes and envision what this looks like. The axe is brought down diagonally across the front of the body. Shoulder muscles AND arm muscles are engaged. But it doesn’t stop there. A squatting position is assumed, pulling in the powerful quads and hams and glutes. In addition, the core fires up to stabilize you and turn your torso to the side. Wow – there is a lot going on in the real world. How well does an isolated bicep curl prepare you for these multiple muscle group movements?
And that is where functional training comes in. I like to think of it as real world training. Let’s train for the real world by doing real world movements. With a functional gym, you can put a straight bar onto the rack, step away from the unit, and perform an actual wood chopping action. Do you like to canoe or kayak? Take that same straight bar and make it your oar – rowing in the same manner you would in the boat. My favorite is to shrug on the harness, crouch down onto the floor, and crawl forwards and backwards in a kind of Spiderman crawl. Wow – you feel every muscle with this one!
Hopefully you now have a better concept of what functional training is. But the true test is to actually experience it. Come by the store and give these functional trainers a try. Precor and Hoist both offer an exceptional unit.