What is Function? Full spectrum work, in multiple planes, using multiple joints, incorporating full range of motion that is proprioceptively demanding.
What is Functional Training? Training that incorporates a full spectrum of training methods, designed to elicit optimum adaptive response appropriate for the sport or activity being trained for.
- No one system of the body is emphasized to the exclusion of another.
- No one training method or physical quality becomes an end unto itself.
- Each athlete is a case study of one – respect the individual.
- Be real – Avoid artificial restraints and positions.
Vern has a blog with some thought provoking posts.
What are you training for?
The point in the definition there that talks about "the sport or activity being trained for" is really important. I don't believe that the average person really thinks much about this. They pick up routines designed for body-builders or boxers or football players or marathon runners. These may (or often may not) be appropriate for the sports concerned but it is unlikely that they will be appropriate to the average person who just wants to be "fitter" for everyday life and maybe lose some fat.
For that you do not really need a complex periodised training plan with olympic lifts, isolation moves etc etc. You need to train and to get your diet sorted out. But it is not complicated and doesn't need to be.
For example you could follow Joel's workouts - simple, covers all you need for general fitness and only takes 20 minutes a day!
I also put an idea up here that you might find interesting - a simple week's training for the "average" Joe. Not a body-builder or competitive athlete...just a normal guy, but one who wants to be fit for regular recreational hillwalking. That is the key - what are you training for?
Mike Mahler had a good article on this:
General Fitness Training for People Who Don't Care About Getting Big or Ripped
What is general fitness? There are a multitude of ways to answer this question. Some say it's the ability to run several miles without having a heart attack. Others say it's the ability to bench press 200 pounds without your butt lifting a foot off the bench. None of these answers are wrong, but let's look at measures of fitness that actually enhance your life: having a good level of general fitness means you have a good amount of strength to get through daily living with ease. This means you don't have to pay someone to carry your luggage at the airport or require assistance to lift your carry-on baggage into the overhead compartment. It means you can carry several bags of groceries from the store to your car by yourself. Having a good level of general fitness means you're fit enough to walk your dog everyday instead of paying someone else to do it. It means you can walk up several flights of stairs without huffing and puffing like a locomotive. While serious trainees won't find these measures of fitness exciting, this article isn't for so-called serious trainees but for everyday people who want a high level of general fitness.
A good training program will get you in shape so you have more energy for daily life and a higher threshold for stress. Moreover, a solid training program will help your body release "good-feel" hormones so you'll feel better than ever.
He then outline some simple programmes to get you on the way to addressing the 5 key elements of:
- Joint Mobility/Flexibility/Balance
For such "general" stuff you could do worse than look at one of Craig Ballantyne's Turbulence Training programmes. He has a free 4 week programme here that you can download, which will get your started with some ideas.
The sales page is a bit "internet hype" but it is actually a fairly solid basic programme.