Is Pilates functional training? Functional training refers to exercises that have a direct carryover to everyday activities and movements.

Pilates is considered a form of functional training as it trains the body in a way that can enhance functionality, flexibility, and mobility.

However, it is important to note that not all Pilates exercises are necessarily functional in nature. The focus on form and control in this discipline can also make it complementary to other types of functional training.

What is Functional Pilates?

Functional Pilates is a form of exercise that combines traditional Pilates techniques with functional training principles.

Pilates can be considered a form of functional training. It emphasises exercises that improve balance, stability and coordination, and strengthens the body’s core muscles. The focus on proper form and controlled movements in Pilates can also help to improve posture and prevent injury while you perform day-to-day activities.

It can also incorporate a variety of equipment, including mats, stability balls, resistance bands, and Pilates machines. This is to provide a challenging and varied workout. Simply put, this type of training is designed to target the muscles used in daily life, making it easier to perform everyday activities with ease. It also helps in reducing the risk of injury.

The Goal of Functional Training

The goal of Pilates functional training is to improve overall functional performance and enhance the ability to perform everyday movements and activities with ease and efficiency. Typically, here are some of the benefits you can get with dedicated functional training.

1. Balancing Stability and Mobility

Balance exercises in functional training challenge the body to maintain stability while it is in motion or in different positions. An example of such is on one leg or an unstable surface. This type of training can help improve balance in daily life and prevent falls.

Functional training also focuses on stability exercises which help improve the muscles that support the joints, such as the hips, knees, and ankles. This helps to improve joint stability and reduce the risk of injury during day-to-day life.

The same goes for mobility exercises that target specific joints, such as the hips, shoulders, and spine, and through movements that encourage a full range of motion.

2. Full-body Integration

Functional training exercises often require the use of multiple muscle groups, challenging the body to work as a unit rather than focusing on isolated muscle groups. This helps to build a stronger and more integrated musculoskeletal system, which can improve overall functional performance.

The discipline also simulates the way the body naturally moves in everyday activities. This type of training focuses on building strength and coordination in a way that transfers to real-world movements and activities.

3. Dynamic Stability

Dynamic stability refers to the ability to remain stable while in motion, which is an important aspect of functional performance. Exercises that challenge dynamic stability, such as single-leg squats, lunges, and step-ups, help to improve the body’s ability to maintain stability while in motion.

Functional training often involves exercises that incorporate instability elements, such as stability balls, Bosu balls, and balance boards, which further challenge the body’s balance and stability systems.

The training also incorporates exercises that challenge stability in multiple planes of motion, including exercises that challenge stability in the frontal, sagittal, and transverse planes.

4. Movement Variety

Functional training often involves exercises that incorporate equipment, such as kettlebells, medicine balls, and resistance bands, which provide additional challenges and variations to movement patterns.

These exercises help to improve overall functional performance by challenging the body to move in new and different ways, enhancing one’s ability to perform a wide range of movements with ease, efficiency, and reduced risk of injury.

5. Increased Flexibility

Some functional training exercises also incorporate targeted stretching, which can help to improve flexibility in specific areas of the body. Some of these areas are rarely given the attention they need by basic stretching exercises. With functional training, however, they’re approached in such a way that daily activities are considered when building them.

6. Overall Strength

Functional training often incorporates compound movements, which involve multiple joints and muscle groups working together to perform a single exercise. These exercises can build strength more functionally and efficiently.

Notably, a study comparing the result of functional training against strength training has shown that the two methods are more or less the same with respect to results. Of course, this conclusion may vary depending on the starting point of the participants themselves.

Of course, those are just some of the goals and benefits of functional Pilates. With its many benefits, the training is advisable for practically anyone who wants to improve their performance in day-to-day activities.

Athletes, older adults, those engaged in repetitive work, and those who do hard labour may find that functional training helps mitigate pain and injury in their daily life.

Final Thoughts

So is Pilates functional training? Yes, there’s a manner of performing Pilates that can help with the smooth function of the body. Done correctly, Pilates functional training is a highly effective form of exercise for improving overall functional performance, enhancing strength, stability, flexibility, and coordination, and reducing the risk of injury.

By incorporating a variety of exercises that mimic real-life movements and activities, functional Pilates targets the muscles used in daily life. It helps to build a stronger and more integrated system.

1. What gym equipment can be used for Functional Pilates?

Some popular pieces of equipment like stability balls can be used for balance and stability exercises, such as ball squats and ball push-ups. There is also TRX suspension which can be used for a variety of exercises that engage multiple muscle groups and improve functional performance, such as push-ups, rows, and squats. Reformer Pilates is also perfect for this. Find out how often you should do reformer Pilates in this post.

2. Can Pilates be done at home?

Pilates can be done at home so you do not need to attend special classes in a studio. There are a couple of types of Pilates, either by mat or with a machine like the Pilates Reformer. Each is a little different from the other. To learn more about Pilates, check out our other posts in the Pilates category.