Functional vs Traditional Strength Training

Once you complete a run on the treadmill or finish a cardio workout, you might want to grab a pair of weights and get some strength training in. But the big question is: should you opt for traditional strength training or functional strength training?

If you are curious to learn about the differences between functional and traditional strength training, check the info below!

What Is Traditional Strength Training?

Traditional strength training works by isolating muscles and working them to exhaustion. This is done by using heavy weights or weight machines that are usually found at the gym.

A typical traditional strength training session should consist of 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps per exercise, usually targeting one muscle group at a time. These movements tend to be easy such as curls, presses, or rows. The idea is that you use a weight that is heavy enough to challenge your muscles in order to make changes and build strength.

What Is Functional Strength Training?

Functional strength training can improve your body’s ability to perform everyday functions such as lifting heavy loads of laundry up and down the stairs.

While it is true that all forms of strength training are considered functional in the sense that they improve your health and ability to perform day-to-day activities, this particular form of strength training includes more dynamic, full-bodied movements when compared to traditional strength training.

Functional training works a bunch of muscles in a single exercise which can encourage core stability, endurance, and balance all while making you stronger.

The training equipment used for functional strength training is also more extensive – you can use kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands, sandbags, medicine balls, or a combination of them all when doing a functional workout. Some simpler exercises include planking, side lunges, and press-ups – all of which incorporate multiple muscle groups to develop total-body power.

If you feel extra motivated, you can also add weights or combine some of these foundational moves into more complex versions such as lunges with rotation, burpees, or renegade rows.

What Is The Difference Between Functional vs Traditional Strength Training?

Both functional and traditional strength training can help you build strength and muscle while boosting your mood and your fat-burning capacity. There are, however, a few key differences between the two.

Traditional strength training tends to involve short sets of targeted and precise movements. Functional strength training incorporates multiple muscle groups in one exercise and can be done in sets, or as HIIT (high-intensity interval training), circuit training, etc.

Traditional strength training is the better option for beginners as there is less chance of injuring yourself, and you don’t have to worry about stabilising a number of joints at once. Common exercises like bicep curls or shoulder presses are isolated, precise motions which can keep things simple for newbies. Traditional strength training is also great for muscle growth, which is why people tend to use this method to bulk up.

Functional training is the more accessible option as it requires either no equipment at all or simple at-home workout tools such as resistance bands or kettlebells. Instead of focusing on one muscle group, in particular, it can improve your ability to perform a range of dynamic movements that will help your everyday chores and activities. Functional strength training utilises more muscles by challenging more parts of your body since you are likely to be standing, balancing on one foot, or kneeling when performing your exercises.

A great way to tell the two apart is that if your workout is built of simple and challenging movements using seated machines, cable pulleys, benches, or heavy weights – you are probably doing traditional strength training. Anything more complicated than this is more than likely functional strength training.

To Sum Up

Both functional and traditional strength training can build full-body strength, can increase muscle, improve your mood, increase your metabolism, and increase your ability to burn fat, while also supporting bone health.

A combination of both types of strength training will encourage healthy strength of all kinds.