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Functional training

Functional training

Everyone, please pitch in! Functional training addresses individual muscles and promotes interaction, optimizes movement sequences, and strengthens entire muscle groups. Competitive athletes rely on this method to get through the season injury-free and in top shape. However, everyone can benefit from the positive effects of varied training. Read what makes functional training unique and start with the first exercises right away.

What is functional training?

Functional training is the counter-trend to strength training on machines. “Function-oriented training” has its origins in competitive sports and physiotherapy. It is not about building individual muscles quickly, i.e. not a steel stomach or muscular biceps. The entire body is involved. The muscle groups involved in movement and interaction are trained, and the muscle chains are strengthened. It improves movement patterns, reduces the risk of injury and increases performance.

The main focus is on the torso, strengthening the middle of the body. These include abdominal, hip, back, buttock and shoulder muscles. The characteristics and interaction of these muscles significantly impact posture, stance, sitting and gait, among other things. A flexible hip and a strong back prevent disc problems, and a stable pelvis and well-trained glutes lead to a better running style.

Functional training is mainly done with your body weight. A typical feature of functional training is aids or exercises that challenge the deep muscles and throw the athlete off balance. It has the effect that the deep muscles that keep the body stable in everyday life are also trained.

What does functional training bring?

With exercises from functional training, you strengthen your entire musculoskeletal system. Here you will find an overview of the advantages of full-body training:

Where is functional training used?

Functional training is very popular with endurance and ball athletes. Both groups of athletes are constantly in danger of getting injured. A wrong step, a stumble or a fall irritates muscles, tendons and ligaments and can lead to tears or hyperextension. Functional training prepares your body for such situations, as it has to react to instability during the exercises.

But it’s not just professional athletes who benefit from the appropriate full-body workout. Recreational athletes are just as interested in staying injury-free. They also appreciate that they can do the exercises anywhere and independently. The training also positively affects everyday movements – especially if you sit at your desk a lot. With the appropriate exercises, you can prevent back pain and tension, your posture will improve, and minor aches and pains can go away.

Functional training

Functional training devices - which equipment?

Sport yes, registration in the gym no. If that applies to you, you have an optimal training alternative at home with functional training found. Nevertheless, the professional guidance of a trainer is recommended. More and more personal trainers offer functional training and make sure you do the exercises correctly. In addition, a trainer can specifically address complaints and individual goals. Fitness studios are also reacting to the trend and creating opportunities for functional training. If you master the exercises, nothing stands in the way of continuing without a coach. Most functional training exercises require nothing more than your body weight. Who can also complete a workout on vacation or after a run in the park?

However, with some equipment, you can intensify the effect of some exercises and add variety to your training. Training devices that put your body in an unstable position are trendy. These include the exercise ball, the balance board and exercise mats. For example, suppose you make a one-legged stand on a balance board. You address the leg muscles and the entire core muscles, which help you keep your balance—other equipment such as the step board, medicine balls, and small weights or kettlebells are great for exercise variations. For example, the push-up with your feet on a step board is the problematic version, and the push-up with your hands on a box is the accessible version. Barbells, pull-up bars, resistance bands and TRX or sling trainers expand the range of exercises even further.

Functional training exercises for beginners and advanced users

Functional training aims not to increase weight but to increase complex movements. The exercises range from simple standard exercises to coordination-demanding movement sequences. The following exercises offer you the ideal introduction. You will find a more complex variant for each exercise that you can try after a while.

Dynamic lunges (jump lunges)

Bring your left leg forward with a giant leap. You are now in the lunge. With a mighty leap, switch the position of your legs so that your right leg is in front. Repeat this alternation for about 30 to 40 seconds. To intensify the exercise, you can use small dumbbells and raise them to the side of your body with each lunge and lower them again in a controlled manner. It is essential to keep your shoulders low and your stomach stable.

Arm Plank

Prop yourself up on your forearms and feet, so your entire body is floating in the air like a plank. Tighten your abs and buttocks, and pull your shoulders down. Maintain the position for 30 to 40 seconds. To intensify the exercise, alternately lift one leg.

One leg stand with leg raises (single leg lift)

Place one foot on the ground and move the opposite leg towards the side. Raise and lower the leg without putting it down. The standing leg is slightly bent, the upper body upright—ten to fifteen reps for each side. Tie a resistance band around the ankles and then try to move the leg to the side. You will find that this is much more strenuous. You can also do the exercise on a balance board or a rolled-up mat for an extra balance and small deep muscle workout.


Support yourself on both hands and toes. Your body is in a uniform line, starting from your heels and ending at your head. Bend your arms and lower your body without laying it down. Raise it back up and repeat 8 to 10 times. Place your feet on a step board to increase the stress. Place hands on a balance board to engage deep muscles.

Stretch jumps (burpees)

Do a push-up. Then, in one bound, bring your feet to your hands to be in a squat. From there, perform a straight jump. After landing, hop your feet back and do another push-up. Repeat this 10 times.

Lateral armrest (side plank)

Support yourself on your right arm and the outside of your right foot. The left-arm points up. Be careful not to bend your hips forward or push your butt back. You should stay in line and feel a tightening on the right side of your waist. Hold the position for 8 to 10 slow breaths, then switch sides. The exercise becomes more strenuous as you lift the top leg. You can achieve the optimal effect with a TRX tape. Place the lower leg in the loop of the TRX band or a sling trainer and try to hold this position.

Medicine ball sit-ups (crunches)

Lie on your back on an exercise mat. Stand with your feet up and hold a medicine ball overhead with both hands. The elbows point outwards. Breathe in on the exhale, bring your torso up, throw the ball against a wall, and catch it again. On an inhale, lower your torso and bring the ball back over your head. Raise and lower your upper body 10 to 15 times.

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