Most fitness and training facilities now have stability balls, foam rolls, balance boards and other â€œfunâ€ toys as part of their conditioning equipment. These are part of a new trend in the strength and conditioning field called â€œfunctional trainingâ€. Definition Functional training is the action of training â€œfunctionâ€, a general term that meaning â€œrole or dutyâ€. Functional training is the science of training the body to meet the specific demands of life and sports. It is based on 1) the principle of specificity and 2) muscle function. The principle of specificity also known as SAID (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands) means that the body responds and adapts specifically to the type and amount of physical demands under which it is placed. In other words, you only improve what youâ€™ve specifically trained. Since muscle form dictates the role and function of each muscle, muscle needs to be trained the way it is designed to function. Origin Functional training is nothing new and comes primarily from the rehabilitation field. For many decades, therapists have been experimenting with ways of helping their patients regain function. Their goal is to retrain muscles to work properly using special exercises. In their quest to help their patients to become more functional, they have a developed functional training approach. Traditional vs. Functional Traditional strength training usually consists of trying to develop strength and build muscle through isolating specific muscle groups. This type of training could be called dysfunctional training and only develop segmental strength. Traditional strength training is adequate for building muscle but it does not train the body to meet the specific demands of life and sports. It does not reproduce real life conditions and only serves to create non-functional strength. Peter Twist, Vancouver Canucks Strength and Conditioning Coach, explains: â€œTypical strength training attempts to develop the body through a piecemeal approach, isolating specific muscle groups. Worse yet, this is often done with the body unloaded, sitting stationary on a machine while moving one isolated body part through a controlled range of motion, usually in a strict linear, straight ahead motionâ€. Traditional strength training train isolated muscle function while functional training train the body to work as a unit. The central nervous system is programmed to make the body function as a unit, not to work in terms of isolated muscle function. Functional training is â€œfunctionalâ€ since it trains the body the way it has been designed to function.
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