Functional training has become a popular trend in the fitness world. This type of training shifts away from traditional resistance training in favor of exercises that mimic normal body movements. In theory, functional training could decrease injuries and improve quality of life.

Traditional strength training involves machines and weights that isolate a single muscle or muscle group. They hold the body in a controlled position and work that single muscle. A leg press machine is a good example.

Functional training involves working against resistance using both the muscles and nervous systems in a coordinated manner. Often functional training begins with only body weight. Instead of using the leg press machine, you might work on single leg squats, controlling only your body weight.

Man doing side plank as part of functional training

Once you develop neuromuscular control with these multiple joints and muscles, you can add resistance bands, fitness balls, kettle bells and weights. As with any new program, it is critical to work with a fitness trainer experienced in functional training to design a program appropriate for you and teach you to do each exercise with proper form.

Also read:
Incorporate core stability into your training
4 tips to prevent workout injuries (in CrossFit or any program)

Proponents of functional fitness training claim that if done regularly, it could decrease pain or chance of serious injury with your activities of daily living. Maybe it could improve your quality of life.