Functional training

What is functional training?
Mariusz Golinski * – Rehasport Clinic Coach

Many people who want to strengthen and prepare for sports, whether as an amateur  or on a competitive level, make a fundamental mistake . While training, people try to imitate traditional bodybuilding training, and try to work out in such a manner as to involve singular muscles or groups of muscles . They exercise the  chest, biceps, abdomen, or calf. The most important element of such exercises is usually an attempt to isolate a given muscle group; exercises of specific muscle groups at one time , and the rest at other times; the reduction of movement to a single surface or limb movement to a single joint. Such training is often accompanied by commonly used support as benches or seats , whose task is to take over the function of torso stabilization or of the whole body. Such training is usually accompanied by use of various fitness machines, in which the movement of the external load is limited by its construction, as  to provide additional stabilization  and give the possibility of carrying larger loads.

This type of training is very widespread, which may be observed in any fitness club. It is based on decades of bodybuilding observations and exercises, which has so strongly been enrooted in our awareness that it is virtually become regarded as the main, if not the only, way of gaining strength by people exercising recreationally. This is also related to the organizational approach of fitness centers. This is because machines commonly facilitate a workout to be an  independent and safe way of exercising. Clients do not need to have any knowledge about the machines, skills, training or supervision.

However, traditional methods based on bodybuilding have severe limitations which cause it to be hardly suitable for forming the desired motor outcomes through sport activity. Bodybuilding training is only meant to develop an appropriate, trend driven figure, mainly by muscle hypertrophy, which is in contrast to sports training.

Sports training  focuses not on the visual aspect (appearance) , but on the highest agility,  efficiency and functioning of the body requiring precise control of complex multifaceted movement.

The negative effects of a weight training workout based on a bodybuilding model:

  •  ” useless ” power, without any usability in sport or daily activities. Power is meaningless  without the ability to control it.
  • Disparities between groups of muscle force, lateral force imbalance
  • Lack of coordination
  • Weak core muscles (inability to effectively transfer forces from the upper to the lower extremities and vice versa , as well as from the torso to the limb)
  • Lack of central stability (core stability) and also impaired limb stability
  • Impaired strength endurance, resulting from long rest breaks in between exercise sets
  • Impaired proprioception (proprioceptive stimuli)
  • No dynamic movement (according to the principle train slowly – be free)
  • The possibility of injury when trying to perform complex multifaceted movement, due to lack of  musculoskeletal adaptation

Even bodybuilders themselves claim their training has little to do with their sport efficiency. According to a frank confession of the World famous bodybuilder Milos Sarcev:  “Bodybuilders are not athletes. They are only athlete mannequins.”

Functional training

There must be a way for  weight training to be more effective . In most sport disciplines, including those practiced highly, as alpine skiing or cross country skiing, tennis, biking, windsurfing, kite surfing, rock climbing, roller skating or ice skating, etc.  a certain level of motor skills such as strength, strength endurance, coordination power or body control is necessary. These need to be trained in a functional way, which means the effects of training will be transferable to the target movement within the sport.

trening-funkcjonalnyfot. | Mariusz Goliński

Functional training in detail:

  • Focuses on target – it is not art for art’s sake, does not deal with aesthetic issues (such as appearance and figure) . The aim in this case is to prepare the body in an optimal and efficient way to practice selected sports, or simply improve varied body movement.
  • Functional training integrates the movement of the upper and lower limbs and torso in all 3 areas of motion simultaneously.
  • It focuses on the ability to effectively perform complex movements, not focusing on individually involved muscles. The brain, which controls the muscle system recognizes and controls the movement of the body,yet does not control individual muscles!
  • Functional training creates the possibility of an effective transfer of forces from the upper to the lower extremities and vice versa. It allows maximum use of force in an unstable environment (skiing, ski-boarding, cycling, roller skating). It shapes muscle strength and overall efficiency. It improves the components of the body by reducing body fat and develops muscle strength , according to the rule that in sport form follows function . That is why a gymnast resembles a gymnast (or even a bodybuilder), a swimmer resembles a swimmer, a sprinter resembles … a strongman. These athletes do not train for a particular look, however often look better than those who do so! Ironically, appearance in this case is a by-product of their training.
  • Overall strengthening of the entire motor system in conditions similar to natural ones prevents acute and chronic sport injuries.

This is achieved by:

  • Performing various complex exercises with an effortless load or body resistance, involving multiple muscle groups at the same time.
  • The elimination of isolation exercises, especially those performed on fitness machines.
  • Increasing the number of exercises performed while standing (in opposite to those done in a sitting position, seated with the back against the backrest or lying), as to get the stabilizing torso muscles more involved.
  • Placing focus on the diagonal torso rotational movements.
  • Asymmetrical and unilateral exercises
  • Improvement of one’s proprioception and balance through exercise in disturbed equilibrium
  • Ballistic and explosive exercises performed at high speed.
  • High -intensity exercises (very short rest breaks in between  using the circuit training method)

Functional training is usually carried out without the use of any  machines, however if they are present, they are a specific units of equipment for functional training . Such machines enable the exercise of complex and explosive movements with simultaneous measurements of their parameters, due unconventional devices, such as thick ropes, sand and water bags, balance boards , weight-down vests , suspended tapes, kettlebells, medicine and gym balls, sleighs, heavy tires, etc.

Due to the usefulness of contemporary functional training, it is widespread in shaping the overall strength and strength endurance among athletes of many sport disciplines, such as board sports, alpine skiing, team sports, martial arts, athletics and more. Due to its versatility and high effectiveness, its elements are the foundation of overall physical training of  elite law enforcement units (SWAT).

Snapshots of functional training in Rehasport Clinic in Gdansk


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Functional training with Mariusz Goliński, in Rehasport Clinic, Gdansk ( in Ergo Arena) for people practicing sports professionally and recreationally.

If you want to precisely and comprehensively prepare for practicing your favorite sport, or meaningfully improve your motor skills, take part in individual training, where the program will be adjusted according to your needs, or the needs to a few people group.

Those willing to participate in such activities are not expected to have the ability of high exercise capacity or efficiency. They are, however, expected be prepared for regular, intensive workouts and a progressively increasing exercise loads.

The recommended frequency of training in order to achieve the maximum improvement in motor abilities: 3 times a week.

Limited number of places. 

Price List
Individual training : 90 zł / 1 person
Appointments – Rehasport Clinic | Ergo Arena Gdańsk
Tel . : 58 769 73 00 , mobile: 601 870 760
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