Q: What is functional strength training?
A: Functional strength training has become a popular buzzword in the fitness industry. Unfortunately, it is also subject to wide interpretation.
In extreme cases some personal trainers believe that by mimicking the explosive, ballistic activities of high-level competitive athletes, they are training in a functional manner. All too often, however, such training programs greatly exceed the physiological capabilities of the average exerciser, which ultimately increases the possibility that an injury might occur. Most would agree that there is nothing functional about sustaining an injury due to improper training. In many respects, functional strength training should be thought of in terms of a continuous movement. Training to improve functional strength involves more than simply increasing the force-producing capability of a muscle or group of muscles. Functional strength training involves performing work against resistance in such a manner that the improvements in strength directly enhance the performance of movements so that an individual’s activities of daily living are easier to perform. Simply put, the main aim of functional training is to transfer the improvements in strength achieved in one movement to enhancing the performance of another movement by affecting the entire neuromuscular system. Accordingly, individuals shouldn’t rely on any single group of exercises. Individuals should use all the weapons in their training arsenal. Functional strength training should serve as a supplement to traditional strength training, not as a replacement.
Properly applied, functional strength training may provide exercise variety and additional training benefits that more directly transfer improvements to real-life activities.
Source: Bryant, Cedric X. 101 Frequently Asked Questions about “Health & Fitness” and “Nutrition & Weight Control”.