What Is Functional Strength Training? Why Do You Need It?

Functional fitness exercises can be quite fun to do (Image via Pexels @Julia Larson)
Functional fitness exercises can be quite fun to do. (Image via Pexels/Julia Larson)

The term 'functional strength training' would have been superfluous a few decades ago, when the sole purpose of lifting weights was to improve athletic performance. At the turn of the century, most gym-goers were not trying to boost their athletic performance; rather, they were seeking improved physical appearance.

However, things are different now. The term 'functional' is being used to describe a certain type of training more frequently than ever before. Due to its focus on real-world applications, functional strength training is an exercise modality that can help anyone and everyone.

Functional strength training is an approach to weightlifting that emphasizes the development of strength in movement patterns used in daily life. Weightlifting, gymnastics, and aerobic exercise all factor into this style of fitness preparation.

Read on to learn about functional strength training and the benefits it offers.


What is Functional Strength Training?

Functional strength training is the best way for seniors to stay fit. (Image via Pexels/Anna Shvets)
Functional strength training is the best way for seniors to stay fit. (Image via Pexels/Anna Shvets)

Strength training that mimics real-world movements is called functional strength training.

Strength training incorporates the use of free weights, gymnastic movements, and aerobic exercise. The combination of the two words, functional and strength, emphasizes how this type of training develops a body that's better suited for the demands of daily life and how it develops a body that is better at producing force.

This training focuses on everyday movements, such as carrying grocery bags into the kitchen or ascending and descending stairs, so it's called functional strength training.

Despite the fact that all forms of strength training are technically functional in that they improve health and ability to perform daily activities, this subgenre of strength training emphasizes more dynamic, full body movements than traditional strength training, like performing jump squats instead of using the leg press machine.

Strength, stamina, core strength, and even coordination and balance can all be improved through the use of functional training exercises, as they target multiple muscle groups simultaneously.


Benefits of Functional Strength Training

These exercises help you improve core strength and stamina. (Image via Pexels/Julia Larson)
These exercises help you improve core strength and stamina. (Image via Pexels/Julia Larson)

Functional strength training has many benefits to offer, such as using the body for efficient movement, strengthening of core muscles, stabilized and stronger, controlled movements. Read about these benefits in detail below.

Check out these ways to improve your functional strength. Meanwhile, here are the benefits of functional training:

1) Strengthen Multiple Muscle Groups Together

Strengthening your body with functional training also helps in preventing injury. (Image via Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko)
Strengthening your body with functional training also helps in preventing injury. (Image via Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko)

Functional strength training emphasizes compound movements, which call upon and enhances the contribution of all muscle groups. Functional techniques are not like a bicep curl, where you'd be working only your arm muscles but rather involve the entire body in the exercise.

When you do a plank exercise properly, you improve your posture and alignment, build strength in the core and abs, glutes, and legs, and increase endurance and stability. Functional training boosts your physical and mental strength in a short amount of time, allowing the body to function better and more effectively.

2) Increased Co-ordination, Agility and Balance

Functional exercises are often used by sportspersons to increase agility, coordination and balance. (Image via Pexels/Mikhail Nilov)
Functional exercises are often used by sportspersons to increase agility, coordination and balance. (Image via Pexels/Mikhail Nilov)

Utilizing one's own bodyweight across a wide variety of exercises is a key component of functional training. There are no artificial aids to help you stay upright, so you will have to rely on your sense of balance and coordination to get through the exercises. As you strengthen your body in this way, you will be better able to resist the forces acting on you.

A soccer player, for instance, must have remarkable hand-eye coordination, agility, and balance to successfully control the ball, pass it, and run while avoiding or overcoming opponents and navigating uneven terrain. The ability to maintain one's equilibrium and move around safely is especially important for the elderly. Hence, it's often recommended that older adults opt for functional training.

3) Injury Prevention

Functional strength training was originally developed to help people avoid injuries and recover from setbacks. Doing functional exercises regularly can help keep the joints mobile and stable, leading to a longer and healthier life.

Injuries to the knees and ankles are extremely common, both in athletes and in those who don't participate in sports, because of the difficulty in quickly changing direction and absorbing the resulting stress.

By training in proper form, using your body for stabilization, and including joint strengthening exercises throughout your workout, you can prepare your injury-prone areas to handle the high impact movements required in sports or in daily life.

4) Strong Core

A strong core helps stabilize and control every movement of the body. (Image via Pexels/Li Sun)
A strong core helps stabilize and control every movement of the body. (Image via Pexels/Li Sun)

The importance of a strong core cannot be overstated when it comes to functional training. It's important to work on building strength in your abs, hips, and shoulders to ensure that the body stays steady.

Even if the focus of the exercise is on another area of the body, the core muscles will be engaged in almost every instance. Strengthening and reducing back pain, preventing injuries, and enhancing posture are just a few of the many benefits of actively engaging the core.

5) Increases Flexibility and Mobility

Because of the variety of motions involved in functional training, flexibility and mobility are crucial.

To make more room in your body, try doing some full body stretches, like opening up the hips, chest, and back, or extending your arms and legs. The tightening and relaxing of the muscles will cause and relieve tension, respectively.

Check out these functional exercises for beginners.


Being functionally strong is possible for all ages and classes of people, no matter what. You can get back into shape quickly with just a few basic pieces of gym gear, a dedicated space to work, and a determined attitude

Edited by Bhargav