You have probably heard the term ‘functional training’ quite a few times but wondered exactly what the term means.

Well, functional training involves key exercises that translate to everyday movements. For example, on an average day you may have to lift, pull, and push several different things within your household. Of course, some people may be more involved with heavier lifting than others due to the nature of their work. However, you would be really surprised how poorly some people can lift the simplest things like a pen off the floor, putting immense strain on their lower backs.

There has been so much emphasis on functional training in recent years, as historically a lot of people have followed strength training programmes which more resembles a program that a bodybuilder would follow. This would include exercises such as bicep curls and chest press in which the main benefits of the exercise are aesthetics. Yes these exercises help create lean muscle mass if done correctly but they have no real function for sport or for everyday life other than making you look good. If that is your aim, then by all means this will 100% enable to reach your goal. But if you’re looking for benefits that include improving posture, stability and strength then functional training is for you.

So you’ve now established whether functional training is for you, which to be honest it should be for everyone who takes their fitness seriously. You may be thinking what exercises you need to do and how. My top 3 functional training exercises are:

  1. Kettlebell Snatch

This is a very explosive exercise which involves both the lower body and the upper body. You will call on so many different muscles to perform it correctly as well as using your core to stabilise the transition from your lower to upper body. This exercise should only be attempted by more advanced individuals or with instruction from a personal trainer or fitness instructor. Top tip: Focus on getting this exercise technically sound, start with a lower weight and master the movement before taking the weight up.

  1. Front squat to press

Again the focus for this exercise is connecting the lower and upper body through the mid-section. Using a barbell at a reasonable weight, start in a front squat position, squat down and then flow into an overhead press. Always ensure you perform squats technically sound to avoid causing any unnecessary injuries. This exercise is suitable for beginners but always start at a lower weight until you feel totally comfortable. Top tip: increasing the flexibility in your shoulders will improve both your squat and your press.

  1. TRX Press up

Like a normal press up, this TRX press up targets your chest, shoulders and arms; by using the TRX suspension trainer you are also engaging your core to stabilise. Take hold of the straps with your shoulders over your hands. This exercise is great for all different abilities as you can adjust the TRX to make to the exercise harder or easier (a more vertical boy position will make the move easier. Top tip: keep your spine in a neutral position at all times with you head in line with your spine to avoid putting any additional strain on your back and neck.

Firewalker Functional Fitness and Martial Arts has always prided itself on producing and developing functional fitness for everyone, at any stage of their fitness journey. There are a range of classes available every week which include key functional training movements with kettlebells, weights and a rig. Please consult with a fitness instructor before performing an exercise you are unsure of. Enquire to claim a free trial class or for more information.