Functional Training Vs. Bodybuilding

“Bodybuilding is unhealthy” says the functional training enthusiast.

“Functional Training is a waste of time.” says the bodybuilder.

Little do they realize, they both do the same thing when they train.

A bodybuilder’s goal is to become as strong as possible, stressing each muscle to close to the breaking point, then pulling back and cutting fat down so much that each individual fiber of that stressed muscle can be seen and displayed. Then, after some time resting and recovering, they start the program over, this time with a new baseline to build from.

A functional trainer’s goal is to create as efficient of a body as possible. Making each joint move to it’s best ability, so that it can then undergo stress in a healthy, programmed fashion and become as strong as possible (which may or may not result in larger muscles depending on the trainer). Then, once optimal strength is achieved, they restart the program, looking to build from the new baseline.

To get huge, a bodybuilder must squat, deadlift, press, pull, and brace their trunk to experience massive amounts of load and remain injury free. They will use primarily barbells, dumbbells, and cables.

To become strong, a functional trainer must optimize the squat, deadlift, pushing and pulling patterns, and teach the trunk to brace under variable amounts of load and remain injury free. They will use primarily barbells, dumbbells, cables, and are known to occasionally attach a band to something.

Bodybuilders want healthy joints so they can go through full range of motion and stress the muscle as much as possible.

Functional Trainers want healthy joints so they can go through full range of motion and remain healthy for as long as possible.

Bodybuilders want strong posture because it makes the body look better and allows muscles to grow in the proper line of stress, creating a fuller look.

Functional trainers want strong posture because it makes the body look better and allows tissue to experience proper lines of stress, creating a more aesthetic and healthy look.

Bodybuilders do reps, sets, and splits that last a week.

Functional Trainers so reps, sets, and splits that last a week.

Long story short, it’s all the same stuff, people.

At the end of the day, we’re all doing the same thing in the gym; squat, hinge, push, pull, brace. We’re all chasing the same goals; look better naked and don’t get hurt. We’re all using the same tools, the same mechanisms, and the same ideas; make the joint the best it can be and make it as strong as possible. The only thing that changes between functional training and bodybuilding is the intensity. A bodybuilder coming up on a show will be at a higher intensity than most athletes in any sport. It’s just the way it is.

Next time you feel like picking between bodybuilding or functional training, don’t. Just go into the gym and workout. Your joints will be happier, your muscles will be stronger, and the machine that is your body will function better as a result of it. Whether you do bicep curls for size or just for overall elbow health, you’re gonna be doing curls regardless. Let’s all get along and make the world a fitter place.

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