The 4 Principles of Functional Training – Principle #3 Balance vs Bulk

Functional Movement - Side Lunge with Kettlebell

Functional Movement – Side Lunge with Kettlebell

Concerned about developing large and bulky muscles? Functional training techniques help you create a leaner, tighter and more-integrated physique. Machine-centered training, and an isolated body-building style of training for 8-15 repetitions per set generally will cause what is known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, where the belly of the muscle increases in size, causing unnatural “bulking” of the muscle.

Instead, work in ranges of 3-5 reps with functional movements to achieve better strength gains and tone, while improving your joint health.


The 4 Principles of Functional Training – Principle #2 Reaction vs. Injury

I cannot tell you how many injuries I have seen over the years from people adhering to bodybuilding and machine training principles instead of functional training principles.

Functional training is “reactive” teaching muscles to “fire” in a pattern, with primary “moving” muscles and secondary “stabilizing” muscles working in sequence to execute movement. This integration engages strong, stable “core” muscles aiding in balance. The result? Your body attains equilibrium between strength and flexibility, between agonist and antagonist muscles, increasing functionality while reducing risk of injury.

The bottom line: you can either have a bulky, unfunctional body that is injury prone or a lean, functional one that is resilient. It also never hurts that functional training workouts are shorter, more effective, and more interesting than all those monotonous curls, leg curls, bench presses, etc.

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.