Functional training: The best method to dial the six-pack
Functional training – circuit training – was developed in 1953 by specialists from the University of Leeds in England, Doctors Morgan and Anderson. In the beginning, the goal was to find an optimal program to eliminate body fat from the body.
In Dallas, numerous investigations, including Baylor University, Waco, and Cooper Institute Universities, affirm that the functional circuit is the most effective method to maintain a constant weight and an excellent physical condition (1).
This article describes the advantages and disadvantages of functional training to say yes or no to this training method.
What is a functional circuit?
The term functional circuit includes any program that meets the following criteria:
- The work of all the body muscles in a single training session
- Minimal rest between exercises
- Execution of various activities during a workout
The duration of a functional circuit workout ranges from 15 to 60 minutes. During this time, cycles of 3 to 5 exercises are performed. Rest between cycles is 2 to 4 minutes, and rest between workouts is 10 to 20 seconds. The number of repetitions should be high.
Benefits of circuit training on the body
Including a functional circuit in training routines teaches the body to train at high intensities, improves respiratory capacity, and uses fat as an energy source. The benefits of practical training on the body are described below:
Lower body fat percentage due to including several muscle groups simultaneously; performing circuit training increases the amount of energy the body needs for the day, so it can be said that it is a way to reduce the percentage of body fat.
- Less anxiety
Doing any physical activity is capable of reducing cortisol levels. This is directly associated with less risk of anxiety and depression.
- More balance
With functional training, you work your muscles and train your body balance. Bodyweight exercises help improve a person’s balance and balancing skills.
- Less likelihood of cardiovascular disease
One of the benefits of functional training is preventing coronary heart disease. Working the whole body allows the stimulation and improvement of the cardiovascular system.
- Better maximum breathing capacity
One of the main advantages of circuit training is improving maximum breathing capacity. This translates as an improvement of the body in transforming oxygen into energy.
Functional circuit vs. cardio
Compared to cardio exercises, functional circuit training has one great advantage – it does not decrease muscle volume. You run a greater risk of achieving an anabolic metabolism through aerobic exercise for long periods.
In other words, intense cardio sessions will lead to muscle wasting. The body will replenish the missing energy with amino acids from muscle mass. In contrast, in functional circuit training, these effects are reduced.
Functional circuit and growth hormone
The functional circuit allows an increase in growth hormone. As its name indicates, this hormone is responsible for muscle growth and one of the main responsible for burning body fat.
In a practical circuit session, lactic acid production, the main responsible for muscle fatigue, is stimulated. Fortunately, the body gradually adapts, and after a few months, this feeling is lost.
Circuit training and muscle growth
It is important to note that muscle volume growth is not the goal in functional circuit training. Although muscles can increase in size, it is not comparable to traditional muscle hypertrophy training results.
This training method is not the best choice to increase muscle mass and get a typical bodybuilder body.
In functional circuit training, you focus on building another type of muscle tissue – tough, dry, fat-free. The muscles become more toned than voluminous and with a defined abdomen.
Contraindications and disadvantages of the functional circuit
The high load on the cardiovascular system caused by a functional circuit is dangerous for those with high blood pressure or a problem with the heart. It is advisable to always consult a doctor before starting training of this type.
Functional training is contraindicated for people with diabetes with uncontrolled glucose levels, those who take blood pressure medications, and pregnant women in the first two months of pregnancy.
On the other hand, excess training sessions with the functional circuit method can cause chronic fatigue, especially in sports beginners or people who are not regularly used to physical exercise. Taking BCAA amino acids is recommended to avoid muscle breakdown and short muscle recovery.
The functional circuit training method consists of short but intense cycles of exercises to burn subcutaneous fat and build dry and toned muscles. Advantages of practical training include increased metabolic rate and muscle strength and endurance.
Combining this type of training with strength exercises is an excellent strategy to have an athletic and defined body. Functional training routines are similar to other training methods such as HIIT and calisthenics.