In the first part of this post, we closely examined the philosophy behind functional training. Today we will look at the practical aspects. We’ll look at different exercises and training equipment. Have fun!
The great thing about functional training is that you can do it almost anywhere and that you don’t need to be outfitted for it. For example, just with your own body weight, you can complete these fundamental strength exercises for the whole body:
- Planks and side planks
- Various sit-up variations
For every exercise, there is actually a regression and a progression. That means that there are variations for each exercise, some that are good for beginners and some that are good for those who are advanced. Let’s look at some examples:
Beginner variation: support hands on a raised surface
Advanced variation: place feet on a raised surface
Beginner variation: fewer repetitions, don’t go so deep
Advanced variation: squats on one leg
Beginner variation: put knees down
Advanced variation: hold longer, on one leg
Training equipment and aids
For more variety, you can find some great training gear and aids. In contrast to the traditional gym, this gear can be used in many different ways and provides for good fun.
Some of the typical equipment includes:
- Suspension Trainer (TRX)
- Medicine balls
- Mini bands
- Gym balls
Even though I can only briefly explore all of the possible training equipment and aids here, I hope that it is clear that functional training is very versatile. Functional training offers a great variety of exercises and equipment, many of which can often be implemented at home. Your work outs can be varied and boredom is rare. In future posts, I will go into more detail on some of the gear. I welcome your comments. 🙂
Workouts: short and sweet
Regarding the length of your workouts, functional training also beats the competition. Above all, it is about efficiency, meaning going full throttle in a relatively short time frame: 30-60 minutes. So you see, a functional training work out really fits into any schedule. After a short warm-up, during which you stimulate your circulation, the actual work out starts. Depending on your training goals, one set lasts about 30-120 seconds, or 10-40 repetitions, and rests times are kept very short.
Functional training is also part interval training. This means that working very hard alternates with relatively short recovery, so your pulse stays up the whole time, and you really burn calories, even after your work out. A well-known example is the Tabata-Principle, that I have already talked about in another blog post. In a Tabata, 20 seconds hard work alternate with 10 seconds recovery, and the whole cycle repeats 8 times. But other combinations are possible, like 45 seconds hard work and 15 seconds rest.
Alternatively, you can also work out based on repetitions instead of time. For instance, you could do antagonist training or circuit training.
In this type of training, one set of exercises in one movement direction, for instance, a pulling exercise like a chin-up, is followed by a set of exercises in the opposite movement direction, for instance a pushing exercise like a push-up. The advantage is that you can use the rest times effectively, while the worked muscles recover. But the circulation continues to run a full blast.
Circuit Training usually consists of 10-15 exercises that work out the entire body. After one set of an exercise, you switch immediately to the next exercise. After completing a set of each exercise, you rest for two to three minutes. Then you start the next circuit round with the same exercises. The goal is to complete three to five rounds.
Earlier in my life I also went to the gym regularly, diligently lifted my weights, and was bored from counting my repetitions. Functional training won me over based on the variety and range of exercises alone. Using a timer, I don’t even have to look at the clock any more. Instead, I just go full bore for each set until I hear the beep. It’s impossible to turn your brain off more. So try it for yourself, or tell me about your experiences.