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Functional Training | Training plans and functional exercises
Functional Training Training plans and functional exercises

Functional Training
Training plans and functional exercises

Date: May 05, 2020

By functional training, we mean a series of working methods that are based on improving the gestures used in the athlete's daily life.

Now, it is not a question of reproducing gestures that are done in shopping or cleaning at home, but in making a functional training for specific technical performance. So, for example, a volleyball player will have his functional training, one basketball another. More specifically, a football midfielder will have a different one than a goalkeeper or attacker...and so on.

In this article, we will find out which are the most used functional exercises and how to include this workout in our fitness program. We will see in the same way some examples of functional training plans that you can reapply and experiment yourself to appreciate the results.

Functional training: characteristics of the exercises

Plank durante un allenamento funzionale


First, let's try to understand what are the best exercises for functional training. These exercises differ profoundly from both pure aerobic training (cardio LISS) and anaerobic workout in the weight room. They are above all an aerobic/anaerobic mix based on the concept of instability, coordination, and dynamism. Generally, they are those who undergo these conditions:

  • Executive instability. A machine or a motor scheme that allows us strong stability is not in this sense "functional" because they will never reproduce real situations of performance or life in general. We are therefore looking for, albeit minimal, executive instability.
  • Great muscle synergy. Partly resulting from instability due to the necessary intervention of stabilizers, muscle synergy is another interesting requirement of these exercises. The more districts participate the more we can train the system, instead of the "specific". In this way, the body learns to move as a single machine and increase the performance of engine patterns that we will find during technical sport.
  • High level of fitness. Energy expenditure, little recovery, cardiovascular training, all fundamental requirements of functional training that reproduce what is the request for performance that takes place on the fields or in any case on the path of a specific sport. Functional training is rarely able to train the fitness level in an exemplary way, resulting in a valid weapon also in terms of anti-aging and/or body recomposition!

Functional Training: how to insert it in the training program?

So let's see how to include this type of training in our programming. We have several possibilities ahead of us. First of all, we have to distinguish all those cases in which it is parallel to a workout in the weight room. In this sense, functional training becomes a vehicle for improving body composition. It all depends on what we are looking for:

Hypertrophic training

So, if in the weight room we are looking for greater hypertrophy or in any case stimulation in this sense at the muscle level, with functional training our aim is to create an energy deficit, improve insulin sensitivity and maximize mitochondrial health to optimize lipid oxidation processes. In this case, my advice is to dose these sessions well (because they are taxing at the neural level) and dedicate a day or a separate moment to them compared to the weight room. So for example in prep stages, many athletes come back to me in the afternoon to do 20-30 'of functional or we dedicate a day of the week only to this type of work.

Main workout

If instead, the functional training is the main physical work we do, then we can insert it for a duration of 45 '- 60' from 3 to 5 times a week. This will surely suffice to significantly improve our fitness levels and body composition.

Preparation for technical sports

Speaking instead of preparation for technical sports then functional training becomes parallel to the technical program followed. At high levels, you train every day even twice a day. In this case, practicing on the field in the morning and functional or weight room in the afternoon is an excellent solution. In other cases, at a lower level, we can simply dedicate a few days to functional training and others to technical training in the field.

Examples of functional training plans

Let's now look at two examples of functional training plans. So let's try to understand, more deeply, what can be a protocol for those who approach this sport for the first time and use it as the main physical activity of the week.

Example 1

In this first example, we have a 25/30 'of work that leads us to alternate more intense phases with less intense phases of programming.

  •     5 'of warming up on carpet
  •     200 rowing with the rowing machine with the maximum possible explosiveness
  •     5 rounds of Plank trying to get to 1 'and resting as little time as possible
  •     5 'of carpet - speed 5 gradient 5
  •     5 HIIT shots on Bike (10'' each sprint) with 50'' of active recovery
  •     5 'of cool-down on carpet

Example 2

Let's see an alternative with different exercises and similar schemes. This type of work has a longer duration which is excellent for those who only use this activity in the week!

  •     5 'of warming up on carpet
  •     5 'of 10'' of elliptical  sprints + 10 Jumps on the Box
  •     10 'of carpet - speed 5, gradient 5
  •     200 rowing with the maximum explosiveness possible
  •     10 'of carpet - speed 5 gradient 5
  •     5 ' of Bike sprints (10" each sprint) and 10 jumps on the box
  •     5 'of cool-down on carpet


Functional training is, therefore, an excellent system for burning calories, keeping healthy, and also working on proprioception and synergy in our body. We have seen examples and how to contextualize it in our plan, now you just have to put it into practice and start experimenting!

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