Fitness Scams: Functional Training

3 Reasons Why the Term “Functional Training” Doesn’t Mean Anything

If there’s one fitness term that has exploded into the mainstream, it’s the word “functional”. You see this word used everywhere now. Whether a celebrity is trying to sell you a “functional” training system or an exercise guru wants you to transform your body using “functional” movement patterns. “Functional” has become an overused, over-marketed term that is used to draw consumers in but does it really mean anything?

Let’s take a look at 3 reasons why you need to ignore the word “functional” when planning workouts or purchasing training.

  1. Used as a Marketing Ploy : So many new fitness trends are guilty of using the word “functional” to sell their product. It makes sense. It’s a hot button fitness term. People see “functional” and they buy but few know what it really means. As I’ll explain below, every company or product will have its own unique definition for “functional”.

Don’t buy a product just because of the keywords on the label. You should be buying based on REAL research and scientific studies. More importantly, you should be investing in fitness products that are ideal for your personal training and not the masses.

  1. Strength vs. Balance : If you visit any form of a fitness website, you’ve probably seen the pictures of men and women doing single leg barbell squats on a BOSU ball. Or maybe you’ve seen the people doing single arm handstands with a weight on their feet. Seems excessive, right? That’s because it is.

Many of these forms of “functional” training take difficult and complex strength exercises and throw in the added variable of challenged balance. You think that would be better for you but the reality is that many of these “functional” exercises only end up working against you.

Take the barbell squat. This is a full body exercise that on its own is extremely difficult to master. You have guys and girls who have been working out for years and still can’t perform a squat correctly. Take this same person who does a butt wink or has an arched back while squatting and put them on a BOSU ball. How is THAT functional?

“Functional” exercises usually are far from that. Most of the time, they do nothing but make you look like a show-off.

  1. Variety of Definitions : The greatest sin of all: no one can seem to agree on what functional actually is. Take five different “functional” products and you’ll get five different “functional” definitions. Isn’t this a red flag?  The fact that these expert fitness companies can’t agree on what “functional” is should be a clue as to the reliability of the exercise or product.

The truth is that there is a reliable definition of “functional” training and it’s far simpler than everyone is making it out to be.

Conclusion: What IS “Functional” Training?

“Functional” exercises for me may not be “functional” exercises for you. See my point?

“Functionality” in fitness has NOTHING to do with a universal definition. Instead, functional training has everything to do with the individual. This is why the best fitness experts roll their eyes when they hear the term “functional training”.

Does it exist?

Of course.

Will you and I have the same “functional” training program.

Highly doubtful.

Functionality in fitness is dependent upon what acute variables the individual needs to obtain an ideal physique. Not ideal in terms of how it looks but how it performs. To make things a lot easier, let’s call “functional” training by what it really is: optimal individualistic exercise.