What Is Functional Training?

In General, Movement by Mikki Reilly1 Comment

I like Mike Boyle’s definition in Functional Training for Sports. He says that “functional training is best described as a continuum of exercises that teach athletes to handle their own body weight in all planes of movement.”

We humans perform a wide range of movements (walking, running, pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, starting, stopping, etc.), which take place in all three planes — front-to-back, side-to-side and rotational. So we should train in all three planes, not just the front-to-back plane emphasized in the traditional gym setting.

Functional training began in the rehab environment. Physical therapists recognized that many of the injuries they saw in athletes and workers were caused by weak stabilizers in the hip, spine or scapulo-thoracic joint. So functional training programs began to address these weaknesses by incorporating exercises that strengthen these stabilizers. Hence, core strength training.

But at the very essence, function is about purpose. So functional training is about preparing yourself for the specific activities of your life.

More on this to come…


  1. I agree about functional training. I train in mixed-martial arts. Most of the gym exercises trainers whould have me do are useless in a fight/grappling situation.

    There is a sight called RossBoxing.com. This guy is into sandbag training. Totaly functional when you consider that a duffel bag full of sand mimics the unpredictable nature of a persons body when you are fighting on the ground.

    Anyway, just thought I would add my two cents…

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