What Is Functional Patterns Training?

Women and men exercising with kettlebells in gym. Group of young

If you’ve been seeing an online personal trainer for a while, the chances are good that you’ve come across the concept of functional patterns training… but it’s also likely that it’s a bit of an alien one for you right now. So it’s good news for all involved that we here at Expert PT are on hand to dispel a few myths and help you decide whether or not it’s the right kind of training method for you.

No doubt you’ve sustained some kind of injury or other while working out. It’s certainly not uncommon, particularly if you don’t have someone experienced standing with you helping you to make sure your form is correct when lifting heavy weights, for example. You can also sustain injuries by not training properly (or at all!) for long distance running and once you’ve got an injury, it can prove particularly difficult to recover.

But the idea behind functional pattern training is to help prevent injuries in the first place while not derailing your training at the gym. It’s also incredibly beneficial for pain elimination and management, and can also enhance your athletic performance so it’s certainly worth looking into for all sorts of reasons, depending on your own personal motivation.

The main focus of functional patterns is to restore proper restoration into human movement, which is often ignored when it comes to traditional workouts. When you’re lifting all sorts of heavy objects, you’re often doing it in one plane of movement, which can put strain on parts of the body on a regular basis – which can result in injury.

But by working to train your body in certain natural movements and encouraging it to work together as one well-oiled machine, you can restore this proper rotation and as a result see a drop in common joint pains – or even eradicate them altogether.

It’s all about being able to move about with less restriction, enjoying adaptability of movement for all sorts of purposes. This could be something as simple as picking something up from the floor (like your barbell) or running, throwing, jumping… whatever activity you particularly enjoy and want to continue doing well.

Functional patterns for beginners

Transverse twist

This is a good one to start off with as it targets practically every muscle in the body and you’ll know if you’re doing it right because you can really feel it in your core. You can do this with a resistance band anywhere, so no excuses if you can’t find a gym!

One arm row

Face your cable machine with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the cable in your right hand, engage your core and row into your body, with a slight twist but your hips facing forward. Make sure the scapula pulls back as you do it as well.

Pendulum squat

This seems basic but will do wonders for your posture. Simply use a small hand weight, stand with your feet hip width apart and make sure your knees don’t cross your toes. Squat and swing the pendulum, with the extension coming from the hips.

Check out videos for all three of these on the Functional Patterns YouTube channel