Functional training is a bit of a buzz phrase in the fitness world at the moment and many people have differing views on their effectiveness. Personally I believe that the best way to decide if they're good is to try them and see the results. I've had fantastic results working with my clients using functional exercises so in my opinion it's worth at least giving them a go. What is a functional exercise? Well it's something that most people don't do too often in the gym. It's a type of bodyweight or weighted exercise that incorporates the movement of many different parts of the body in a way that you would use them in your day to day life.
The benefits of functional training come from two areas.
Firstly, by completing exercises that incorporate many different parts of the body you actually start to teach your different limbs and muscles how to work with one another effectively which is key to health and fitness. Doing this will help 'iron out' imbalances in your body, muscles and joints which will in turn reduce propensity of injury and actually help rehab old injuries. It's different to a lot of typical training in the gym that generally works one muscle or muscle group in isolation, making your stronger but in a way that's difficult to address the imbalances.
Secondly, functional training will have you using movements that you use regularly during the day. It could be a type of lift you use at work a lot, a type of movement you use when playing sports of even as simple as moves to help make getting in and out of your car more easily. It's about finding what you do often, what you want to get better at and relating a gym exercise to it. Once you've know what movement you want to improve on then you can design a move in the gym to replicate it. By breaking down the movement into its constituent parts, working on them individually then combining them back together again you can improve your bodies' performance when asked to do that move.
These two things together are very powerful techniques that are designed to make you better at what you do outside the gym. It's applicable to everyone whether you're a seasoned lifter, runner or rugby player. It's perfect for you if you don't play sports and just want to improve how you get about in your day to day life. It helps take away pain, increase balance, increase flexibility and many other aspects of health and fitness.
So what should you do with this knowledge?
I would suggest that if you want to improve any aspects mentioned above then do a bit more research on functional training and give it a go!