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The 4 Principles of Functional Training: Principle #1 – Isolation vs. Integration

Principle #1

Integration vs. Isolation

Strength training on machines works muscles in isolation-although it’s rare that your muscles would be required to work in isolation in any other situation. Functional training, on the other hand, removes the support provided by machines, requiring the body to work multiple muscle groups in integration, as the body is intended to move, resulting in more balanced muscle tone.

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Why Are Functional Exercises Important?

There are many reasons why functional exercises are important; here are some of the primary reasons:

  1. They promote maintenance and improvement in Active Daily Living tasks
  2. They promote spinal health and longevity
  3. They mimic motor patterns that translate into daily tasks, recreational sports, and work activities.


Traditionally, when people exercise, they are working on “cosmetic fitness” – exercising to look good and working on surface muscles or those that we see. The problem with this is that it doesn’t help you in daily tasks. How often do you hear that someone hurt themselves reaching to the back seat of their car, turning quickly, or bending down quickly to pick up something? These are daily living tasks; therefore, it makes sense to train the muscles doing similar movements. You aren’t lying down most of the day doing crunches, yet your abdominal muscles are constantly working to stabilize your spine. So why not train them in a way that makes sense (i.e. standing, sitting, twisting)? That’s what core and functional training are about, and there are several methods you can use.