Functional training vs. performance training: Which is for you?
There are a lot of important aspects of fitness, and it can be intimidating to try and sift through all the information thrown at you. Bradley Pasker, strength coach at Apex Athletic Performance, explained the importance of SMART goals and how to know if functional training or performance training is right for you.
Make sure your fitness goals are SMART
“SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based,” said Pasker. “SMART goals will help you to understand whether you’re training for better performance or for improved function.”
Functional training is focused on activities related to our daily lives and includes exercises that involve large groups of muscles. Think squats, deadlifts and different types of presses. These are exercises that help with building strength and core muscle function. Many who focus on functional training are looking to maintain their current health or improve their ability to pick up heavy things, put things away or simply to move up and down throughout the day without discomfort.
Performance training, on the other hand, is much more specific and usually focused on training for competitions, sports or events. Performance training involves fine-tuning specific muscle groups to a higher level. For example, someone who has run prior half-marathons but wants to train for a marathon race would be making SMART goals related to building endurance and cutting down the time required for them to run the requisite 26.2 miles.
The intensity of performance training, and which muscles and skills are emphasized, will depend on what event or sport is being trained for and whether the athlete is competitive.
Which form of training is right for you?
“Once you know what you’re looking to accomplish, setting SMART fitness goals should be much simpler,” said Pasker.
If you’re looking to move more easily throughout the day, play with children without getting winded, take your dog on longer walks, feel less worn out by intense cleaning or heavy lifting, then functional goals are what you should be focused on. Exercises designed to build overall strength and fitness may not be as flashy or ‘trendy,’ but they’re effective and help to build a healthier lifestyle.
Athletes who are interested in getting that slight edge that lets them overcome the competition will need to train utilizing performance goals to help maximize specific abilities. Remember, too, to speak to your coach about ensuring you are exercising safely. Nobody wants to get injured right before they compete!
Be honest with yourself not just about what your goals may be for the future, but also what your capabilities are right now. Then you can build a training program to help you live your healthiest life – and play your best.
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