If you want to build muscle and strength best, avoid functional training. Focus on using both limbs at a time with multi-joint movements. This allows the stabilizing muscles to contract safely. Imagine trying to use a cannon in a canoe. You would feel challenged directing the ball in the right direction. View a poor exercise the same way. Your body seeks to make a good platform. This assists the major muscles driving a movement. Otherwise, the smaller muscles will hold back the main muscles.
Due to so-called functional training concepts, training for strength on unstable surfaces and unilaterally has grown. Balls, balance boards, vibration equipment, any tool with “ab” included, and other fancy selections are dangerous. Many enjoy them since they seem popular and fun. Facilities that involve these promote social interaction and a hardcore mentality. They push large-group classes. Trainees receive little attention. The owners make much more per hour with functional training.
These exercises provide little strength value as balance and coordination prevents heavy loads. Many are unsafe for any purpose. Anytime your body fails to maintain tightness, your strength will suffer. This comes either through poor form or due to the mechanics of the exercise. Lifting heavy allows you to build general functional ability. It carries a host of unique benefits. Other forms of exercise cannot compare.
Large muscles drive the actions that use strength and power. The muscles of the thigh, torso, legs, and arms move the limbs. The stabilizers, including the core, only need to allow them to do the work. Core training, a major part of functional training, dominates fitness. The idea of the core serving as a weak link that limits performance appears overblown. The stabilizers tend to match the strength of the major muscles. They remain involved in basic exercises much more than most realize. Most stabilizers are smaller but have great leverage. Therefore, they hold positions well. Their capacity for growth stays limited. Yet many training practices today give them undue focus.
Athletic movements such as sprinting, jumping, and walking work the stabilizer muscles in a normal way. Walk across terrain for some time. Notice that your outer hip muscles feel worked or sore. Sprint up a hill for enough lengths. You will find your inner thigh muscles exhausted. Almost every intense exercise works the core. These options also condition. This improves cardiovascular endurance. Trying to train stabilizers through heavy lifting creates a poor workout for all the fitness components. Balancing may involve a lot of muscle groups, but the major ones never benefit much. No one can lift heavy while concerned only with balance. You may become better at balance for that task, but the learning process does not transfer to other actions.
Skills are specific. Functional training assumes unique activities transfer to any environment. Exercises challenging balance and coordination require exact learning. Performing a skill makes you better at that skill alone. Functional training exercises often will not develop general qualities such as strength and endurance well. They may stress the joints. Good exercises in general, while still requiring good form, rely on a low skill component. Skill training should reserve for sports practice.
Stability also applies to form. You must tighten the musculature outside the main muscle groups for the movement. When bench pressing, many trainees simply lie on the bench. They give little if any thought to creating a strong base. Instead, stick out the chest. Pull back the shoulder blades. Plant the feet firmly. Your performance will increase. Otherwise, the trainee wastes energy. He or she fights to keep the barbell guided and risks injury. Learn proper form. Do not just choose basic exercises.
Perform basic movements for strength. Push, pull, and squat heavy. These few involve all the major muscle groups. Use free weights and a simple flat surface. The stabilizers still work to brace the body during them. You can train them further though with athletic choices. These choices can categorize as functional training. These also work on endurance. Less stability can play a role during these. These do not involve heavy weights though, instead emphasizing motion. Make sure they remain safe. Have fun, but keep exercise purposeful and progressive.
Many functional training options are too risky. They will never develop strength or anything else well. Functional training should never replace the most stable free weight exercises.