Working out at home? No problem, we've got you covered. If you're building a home gym, we've got just the equipment you need. Learn all about functional trainers in this guide!
Functional Trainer Buying Guide
Functional training is the act of training for physical activities performed in daily life. The term was first introduced towards the end of the 1990s, with its roots originating from the injury rehabilitation world. ‘Functional training’ exercises would be prescribed to patients by physical therapists, in order to regain a previous fitness level after sustaining an injury.
Nowadays, the term is much broader, with functional fitness exercises taking place in the comfort of your own home or at the gym rather than at the physical therapist's office. For example, resistance bands and dumbbells can be easily used at home, along with exercises involving barbells, kettlebells, and more.
So, in relation to functional training, a functional trainer is a piece of equipment or home gym set up that can be used to complete all forms of functional training.
When you dissect the word ‘functional’, the whole prospect of this form of training makes the term pretty self-explanatory. So, let's look at the definitions:
- Working in the usual way
- Capable of functioning or operating
- Capable of serving the purpose for which it was intended
So, when you think about different types of exercise movements and what makes them functional, you could think of performing a diagonal reach with a medicine ball. Without the medicine ball, you could be reaching for something in a high cupboard, which makes the exercise functional.
What are the Benefits of Using a Functional Trainer?
When it comes to functional training, if you do it right, it can have a huge impact on your life outside of training. So, whether you're training for sport, building your strength back up after an injury, or just training for the game of life, there are many benefits you can gain from it.
Functional trainers are great for improving stability and strength across a variety of everyday movements. From strengthening and protecting your joints and muscles, to your body being more resistant to common injuries like strains, functional trainers can set you in good stead for your overall physical health.
The trainers are well-balanced, meaning they work all parts of your body equally to ensure that you don't develop any weak links. This is a very common reason why active people get injured.
What's great about a functional trainer is that the training across movement patterns ensures that joints are moving through a full range of motions. They ensure that you are building strength across a full range of motion, too, which is vital for maintaining proper joint function.
They can also improve core stability, which only enhances a person's mobility.
Build Strength for the ‘Real World’
There is a significant difference between building muscle in isolation, for example in the gym, and building muscle for real-life experiences. Functional training can improve a person's ability to perform everyday tasks like carrying groceries and mowing the lawn.
Not only this, a functional trainer can improve performance across recreational physical activities, too, such as bike riding, hiking, and climbing, or team-based sports like football.
Functional training improves a person's overall athleticism. It does so by working on whole-body strength, stability, and movement, with people noticing these qualities working on a higher level.
It also builds up a person's resilience and robustness in response to injury.
Gets You in Better Shape Overall
The goal of a functional trainer is to provide purpose-driven training while making it fun and varied which ultimately keeps you engaged.
While working out your whole body by favoring multi-joint exercises, building strength and muscle, these machines do it in a balanced and functional way. This is why it is a sustainable way of exercising, with improvements and results being seen time and time again.
What is a Cable or Dual Cable Functional Trainer?
A cable functional trainer is a large, upright machine. They can feature a single pulley, or one attached to each side — making it a dual cable trainer.
These allow users to recruit all major muscle groups while moving in multiple directions. They provide a smooth, continuous action which not only reduces the need for momentum to start repetitions but also provides constant tension on the muscle. Cable trainers make it safe for users to perform exercises that enhance flexibility, and they can also target more than one body part when they are being used.
But, if you've spent some time in the gym, then there's a big chance you'll have been acquainted with one of these machines. They are a staple piece of exercise equipment in many gyms and training centers, however, they are now becoming hugely popular in home environments.
Whether it's a cable or a dual cable trainer, the equipment has adjustable cable pulleys that allow you to perform various exercises in a variety of directions. The resistance of the cables allows you to perform these exercises, and unlike a standard weightlifting machine that has a fixed path of movement, cable trainers allow you to be more flexible with your movements.
Does a Functional Trainer Use Plates?
Functional trainers come in lots of different shapes and sizes, and in order to provide the exercise variety they're well known for, they not only need to have at least 1 adjustable pulley system, but most use a weight stack for resistance purposes.
Some machines still use weight plates, however, this is not essential. They're also known for having several attachments or handles to choose from depending on what kind of exercise you're doing.
Is a Functional Trainer Also a Smith Machine?
Both products are hugely multi-functional, however, there are some differences when it comes to a Smith machine and a functional trainer.
A Smith machine has a guided vertical squat bar that refers to a fixed movement. It allows you to increase the weight significantly without worrying about safety and control. They come in a variety of designs, with some attached to full cages and some attached to half racks. Overall, they are a versatile and solid option for training.
Functional trainers are designed specifically to allow the user to perform their exercises in a natural and unrestricted manner. They traditionally consist of dual weight stacks and pivoting pulleys that have high and low adjustable positions. This allows the user to execute any exercise they wish when trying to simulate a rehabilitation movement, a specific sport movement, or any exercise that uses increased muscle strength.
Is a Functional Trainer also a Squat Rack?
Because of the versatility that a functional trainer provides, you are also able to perform squat exercises with them.
Some functional trainers incorporate squat racks into their build and allow you to perform activities such as squats and bench presses.
Because you are able to complete these kinds of exercises via your functional trainer, it actually makes personal training less difficult, and less time-consuming, with you being able to perform all of your exercises from the convenience of one piece of training equipment.
Does a Functional Trainer Work as a Cable Crossover Machine?
Functional trainers are actually often referred to as cable crossover gyms, or cable pulley machines. They enable you to perform a variety of different exercises, and all at different fitness levels, too.
What's more is that very few machines can beat, let alone match, the versatility of a cable-based functional trainer. They are beneficial regardless of what you are training for. Whether you want to improve your power, endurance, or hypertrophy, the functional trainer has you covered. It doesn't matter what your fitness goal is, either — a quality functional trainer that works as a cable crossover machine will not only help you achieve them but surpass them, too.
What is an Adjustable Arm on a Functional Trainer?
Adjustable arms on functional trainers work by helping the user achieve any training position they require.
Whether the arm needs to be adjusted to help perform a rehabilitation exercise, or it needs to be adjusted for a person's height, an adjustable arm basically helps the functional trainer user use the equipment to the best of their ability.
The adjustable arm is great for adapting different exercises and adjusting to a person's body type or capability. This means that any user of any ability, strength, or height can use the equipment securely, safely and effectively.
Cable Pull Up and Pull Down Capabilities
There are many exercises that you can do on functional trainers that can target different muscles in different parts of your body.
For example, cable pull ups target your upper body, with exercises that work the chest, shoulder, and triceps. You can perform exercises such as the standing shoulder press, and the cable chest fly, which will help you work on your upper body strength.
With cable pull down capabilities, you can target your lower body muscles, and perform exercises such as glute kickbacks and Romanian dead lifts.
Including cable exercises into your fitness regime is a great way to incorporate variety into your workout, all while building strength and training your muscles from different angles.
Where to Buy a Functional Trainer
If you want to experience the full effect of a functional trainer, then it's worth investing your time in finding the perfect one for you. That's why, here at Northern Fitness, we've dedicated our time to build affordable machines that truly provide the best home workouts for everyone.
When you purchase a trainer from us, you're supporting a company whose main intentions are to inspire people to get fit and healthy in the most enjoyable way possible. We have a passion for fitness, quality products, and healthy living.
Your home gym will be one of the best things you purchase, so what are you waiting for? Shop our range today!
Must-Have Accessories for Functional Trainers
When it comes to your functional trainer, there are a few accessories that you absolutely need. From helping you exercise easily and safely, to making sure you execute your activities perfectly, here are a few accessories we have listed that will change the way you exercise:
Ankle straps serve as an external support system and are commonly used as attachments to functional trainers. They allow for resistance from the lower body while performing strength exercises.
Tricep ropes are a great addition to your workout equipment. You can perform exercises such as tricep pulls with them, whereby you use them by grabbing the rope with both hands, with your arms bent slightly more than 90 degrees. You keep your elbows close to your sides and pull downwards until your elbows are fully extended.
Long bars are great for when you want to perform an exercise that targets your lower and middle back. They are also great for involving the abs, biceps, and forearms too, and can even work out the upper back and lower traps.
A curl bar is a must-have accessory that allows you to have a more complete tricep and bicep workout. Rather than working the main part of each muscle, the curl bar allows you to concentrate on more specific parts of your biceps and triceps. They allow you to perform a more well-rounded exercise if you are trying to maximize your gains.
Buy a Functional Trainer from Northern Fitness
So, if you're looking for ways to start working out at home, then there's no better way to go than investing in a functional trainer from Northern Fitness. Our team can offer you a free consultation, and answer all the questions you need to know.
So, who's ready to start their functional trainer journey and get fit at home? Begin today with Northern Fitness.