When most people think of personal training or strength training, they imagine athletes or people who are trying to lose weight and get fit. While those are certainly worthwhile goals, there is another type of training that offers benefits beyond enhanced performance. Functional training is an increasingly common form of exercise that focuses on improving overall quality of life by making it easier to perform everyday tasks.

The Basics of Functional Training

Traditional strength training tends to focus on individual muscle groups, working them one at a time. For example, you might strengthen upper arm muscles by performing bicep curls with hand weights or use a leg press machine to work your upper legs and glutes.

Functional training is different in that it works entire muscle groups, sometimes several at once. The exercises focus on stabilizing some muscles while using others at the same time, mimicking how they work in everyday activities. Rarely do you use only a single muscle group at once, so functional training is designed to strengthen and develop all of your muscles. This can make it easier to do everything from playing outdoor games with your family to digging in your garden without tiring too quickly.

strength training

Athletes can also benefit from functional training. Although strength training is important for muscle development, working out in the weight room isn't the same as playing on the field or court. Functional training helps enhance performance and prevent injuries by training multiple muscles to perform complex movements in sync.

Functional Training Exercises

Functional training involves performing exercises that use multiple joints and muscles, combining moves that incorporate both flexibility and resistance. Most of the movements are done while standing and may include bending, twisting, pushing, pulling, climbing, lunging, or changing directions. Some common functional exercises include multidirectional lunges, squats, standing rows, mountain climbers, burpees, and planks with leg lifts.

Some people incorporate functional exercises as part of an overall workout that also includes strength training and cardio. Fitness centers may add functional exercises to their offered classes, including boot camp-style programs. As with any form of exercise, though, it's important to start slow and build your strength. Work with a personal trainer to learn proper form and techniques and to develop a functional and strength training routine that helps you achieve your goals safely.


Get on track toward your health and fitness goals by joining Freedom Fitness in Wentzville, MO, or any of their other locations across Greater St. Louis. This welcoming and supportive gym serves residents across the surrounding metro areas with group training and personalized classes led by qualified fitness instructors. Learn more about getting started by visiting them online, or call (636) 926-3364 to speak to a member of their gym family about joining.