This is something I have been continually asked about over the past year. I must admit I have struggled to give a good answer, but based on some discussions in England and my readings I am going to make an attempt at defining Functional Training. I am not sure it can be strictly defined because it encompasses such a broad area. First we must define function. The definition I use is that it is integrated multidirectional movement. Everything we do as long as we are alive is functional, it is really a matter of how functional relative to what we are preparing for. One of the dictionary definitions of function is “A thing depends and varies with something else.” It does not mean that you don’t lift weights. It does mean that you are acutely aware of context and interrelationship of physical qualities and systems of the body.
Functional training is training that incorporates a full spectrum of training designed to elicit the optimum adaptive response appropriate for the sport or activity being trained for.
It incorporates a kaleidoscope of methods systematically applied to improve all systems of the body. No one system is emphasized to the exclusion of another. No one method or physical quality becomes an end unto itself. Each athlete is a case study of one. Each athlete brings something different to the table. It is characterized by integration of movement and a spectrum approach. By spectrum approach I mean moving along a spectrum of methods and activities relevant to the method being utilized. As best I can tell if you accept this definition functional training is not new. It is something that has characterized good training and rehab programs for a long time.