For a vast majority of sports, athletes express their talents in an arena where they need to run, jump, throw, shuffle, and perform a variety of other movements. Why then, do so many athletes still train their bodies by using exercises that require them to use a machine?
When workouts and exercises are performed using machines, an athlete does not have to use his body to remain stabilized and balanced.
Instead, the machine takes care of this task for the athlete. Furthermore, many machines require only a single-joint to complete the movement, which is completely different than what we see in sport. Sports require multi-joint movements whereby numerous muscle groups work together to perform a given movement. So, what can an athlete do to better prepare for his or her sport? Train functionally.
Functional training attempts to put the athlete in an environment that requires him to use numerous muscle groups and provide his own stability during movement. After all, is this not what the athlete is required to do during competition? Functional training is purposeful training. It’s purpose is to incorporate balance, reaction, strength, and power into a complete workout. During training, an athlete needs to improve the ability of his abdominals, hips, and upper back as stabilizers. Stronger stabilizers allow greater function of surrounding muscle groups because greater stability is present through movement. Better stabilization = greater function = better movement. Being able to move better and more purpsosefully makes an athlete more athletic, and hopefully, he can use his increase in athletic potential to his advantage on the field of play.