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Functional Training & Bodybuilding: How Are They Linked?

Functional Training & Bodybuilding: How Are They Linked?

May 19, 2022 3 min read

Functional Training & Bodybuilding: How Are They Linked?

When people think of bodybuilding they tend to think of Mr Olympia competitions and the less savoury side of training, in steroid usage. And a lot of people won’t know what functional training really is. Throughout this article I’m going to break down what each side of this coin means, and how they are intrinsically linked.

Bodybuilding is quite self-explanatory on the surface. People tend to think of being ridiculously large but that it becomes more superficial. They may think of Dwayne Johnson, Ronnie Coleman, Arnie or actors who have been cast in lead roles in the latest Marvel movies. The superficial side of bodybuilding definitely can be dangerous, not least because it can involve extreme dehydration and starvation, all for the competition win or gaining a role. But, the way I like to look at it, at least, is by breaking the word down; essentially we are building up our bodies, starting with good form and motor control, then increasing strength, muscle gains and power over time. This happens through Progressive Overload; by increasing weight, decreasing rest times, progressing movements or adding time under tension to any given exercise.

Now what is Functional Training? Well, it’s basically using compound movements (movements that work multiple muscles or muscle groups at once) and various pieces of equipment you can move across multiple planes of motion to accomplish movements we use all the time in daily life. We use the same principals of Progressive Overload here as well. And this is the foundational link.

For example, I don’t know about you, but I’m not using a Bench Press position in everyday life, but I would be using a Deadlift technique to pick up a heavy object, or a Sled Pull or Row movement to move a piece of furniture. A Squat technique would help me to climb higher steps, etc. Yes, a bench press is great to gain powerful push strength through the chest, but it’s uniquely suited to that application particularly.

Functional equipment tends to include Battle Ropes, Kettlebells, Sandbags, Tyres, Hammers or clubs. And bodybuilding equipment tends to be what kit and machines are found in a commercial gym environment. So, to be able to combine both of these aspects together, creates a strong body that functions well through the end range of movement with good form and strength, as well as being able to handle rotation to keep ourselves flexible and mobile.  

Here is a demo workout that works as both a bodybuilding and a functional training workout using Barbells, Kettlebells and Sandbags:

Upper: BB Bench Press x 6-8 @ 75-85% intensity
Lower: BB/KB Deadlift x 6-8 @ 75-85% intensity
Rest: 45 secs

Upper: KB/BB Hinged Row x 8-12 @ 70-80% intensity
Lower: BB Squat x 8-12 @ 70-80% intensity
Rest: 20 secs

Upper: SB Toss/OTS x 6-8 @ 75-85% intensity
Lower: KB Weighted Farmer Carries x 6-8 @ 75-85% intensity
Rest: 45 secs

Upper: KB Single Arm Bicep Curl to Cross Body OH Press x 8-12 es @ 65-75% intensity
Lower: BB Weighted Lunges w/Rotation x 8-12 es @ 65-75% intensity
Rest: 20 secs

Upper: BB Strict Overhead Press x 6-8 @ 75-85% intensity
Lower: KB Swings x 30 @ 70-80% intensity

End (2 mins rest) and repeat each pair x 4
Make sure to go straight from upper to lower in each pair with no rest

Click here to visit the Gravity Fitness store to pick up the Functional Training kit you need and tag us on Instagram @gravity.fitness to show us what you’re working on!