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Functional training, how it benefits you

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The term “functional training” appears to be everywhere at the moment. However, it’s often overused and easily misunderstood. Explained below is exactly what is meant by functional training and how it’s beneficial to your strength, fitness and everyday life.

Functional Training Definition

Functional training simply means to train the body to be able to perform the requirements of daily life or specific tasks such as sports or leisure activities. Functionality can be thought of as a continuum from less functional to more functional.

To help you understand the difference, here is an example. Let’s take a highly functional exercise, the back squat and compare it to a less functional exercise, a leg extension. Even though both exercises focus on the upper thigh (quads), performing a back squat is considered more functional than performing a repetition on a leg extension machine. Why is that?

  • A back squat requires coordinated and balanced movement across multiple joints (hips, knees, ankles) involving lots of different muscles (quads, glutes, lower back, hamstrings, calves and core), through a large range of motion. In contrast working out on a leg extension machine requires far fewer muscles working across a single joint.
  • A back squat also simulates an activity of daily living, as you perform a squatting movement every time you sit down or stand up. Whereas a leg extension machine focuses solely on the quads, and is limited to a range of motion that is small and specific only to the leg extension machine.

Therefore, a back squat is considered a highly functional exercise, whereas a leg extension machine is far less functional.

Carry-Over Effect


For an exercise to be considered as “highly functional” it should have a carry-over effect into other aspects of life. Activities of daily living, recreation or sporting performance directly benefit from the carry-over effect. An example: a basketball player will benefit greatly from performing squats since this movement is very similar to that of a jumping movement, and strengthens the muscles involved in performing a vertical jump.

Freeletics Gym focuses on exercises that are highly functional. Therefore the training system focuses on barbells instead of machines. That means for you: the challenge of learning a number of  complex movements. But these exercises will prepare your body best for a wide range of challenges in other disciplines and every day life.

Learning those exercises will take time in the beginning. The Freeletics Gym app has a dedicated movement teaching section to help you learn the movements.

The coach will make sure that your whole body is trained in an effective and functional way. Freeletics Gym offers functional training, via workouts which emphasize exercises that have a carry-over effect on daily life activities, recreation and sports.