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Functional training: the benefits and the best exercises

It is common to see followers of functional training, people who only do functional training, gyms only for functional training …

But what is functional training?

In this article I will clarify your doubts, talk about its benefits and give you some exercises so you can try this type of training.

Functional training: what is this?

Functional training

In a quick search in the dictionary  we see that functional is  “which concerns the functions of an organ or a system.”

With this definition we can ask the question: what is the purpose of functional training?

Functional training helps you to improve the functions of your body.

It is therefore logical that the functional training works in different areas, without any in special.

When well structured, this type of training can have an influence on:

  • Strength
  • Speed
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance

It is important to note that since there is no distribution of muscle groups per training session, this type of training should be well planned to avoid  overtraining (the excess  of training that results from increasing the intensity of the training volume and that can negatively influence our physical performance by not giving enough rest to the body) or  overreaching (a less severe variation of overtraining).

Functional training is very popular because it is an excellent way to:

  • Increase your levels of physical fitness
  • Challenge the central nervous system
  • Have a more dynamic training, since it works with several movements at the same time, combining a multitude of exercises
  • Be prepared for our daily activities

This type of training is an excellent tool to evaluate and correct certain motor patterns and posture, and also to be aware of and dominate your motor skills.

Knowing that today the world population is considered sedentary, and most of us spend eight hours at the desk, why don’t we choose a type of training that challenges us to do all possible movements?

Why not breaking out of the routine and doing a different and challenging workout every day instead of the traditional day of Chest and Triceps?

Training plan and exercise suggestions


A training plan for functional training is not like a traditional one.

Usually in this type of training we have:

  • The day of pulling
  • The day of pushing
  • The day of leg training

One of the good things about functional training and one of its greatest benefits is that this type of training can be done anywhere, with your own body weight or with external weights.

In this way, it is much easier to maintain the consistency that leads to results.

Before starting the functional training, you should meet with a professional from this area, so he can help you achieve results.

Do not look at functional training as a set of circus exercises, but rather as a type of training that helps you to optimize the functions of your body.

Here I give you some suggestions of exercises for your training.

Exercises: the most important examples

Examples of exercises


How you do it:
  • Feet hip-width apart
  • Toes slightly pointing outwards
  • Feet firmly on the ground and body in extension
  • Do a slight hip flexion back. As you go down, the knee joint is flexed until the buttocks pass the knee line, or the parallel position
  • Perform the reverse process until your body is in extension


How you do it:
  • Start movement in plank position
  • Flex your elbows until your whole body is in contact with the ground
  • Return to the starting position through elbow extension


How you do it:
  • Lie on the floor with your belly up, and your knees bent
  • Keep your feet in contact with the ground
  • Bend your hip until your hands contact the floor next to your feet
  • Return to the starting position


How you do it:

Take a step forward, bending the back leg toward the ground while the front leg describes a 90° angle.

Return to the starting position by making the opposite movement, for example.  After this you can do the same movement with your other leg.


How you do it:
  • Starting from a standing position, push your hip back
  • Put your hands on the floor
  • Go to the plank position by doing a push up
  • Return to the starting position

This exercise can also be performed by doing a jump with your body in extension.

Conclusion about functional training:

In general, functional training is a multi-joint training (which uses several joints at the same time).

It usually involves a great range of exercises with a high intensity.

It can be done by anyone as long as properly oriented and according to the capabilities of each one.

It will not only help you to improve your physical performance, it will also have a positive influence on your daily activities.

Try these exercises and share your questions or suggestions in our comments!


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About Tiago Sousa

Tiago Sousa
Tiago Sousa has a degree in Sports & Physical Education, he is a Personal Trainer and also a Crossfit L1 Trainer. He is a former competition swimmer with his own outdoor training business. He aims to bring more science to his area, helping people to achieve their goals in a safe way.

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