When it comes to strength and resistance training, functional trainers are the most effective and versatile piece of fitness equipment on the market. Not only do these machines allow you to work the most muscle groups in the widest variety of ways, they are also safe to use for all age groups capable of resistance training. The cables and weight stacks ensure that the weight will not fall or cause harm to the user and there is no need for a spotter when performing heavier lifts. The cable systems these machines utilize allow for exercises to be performed safely in every plane of movement. This means that each exercise will feel completely natural for each specific user. While there may not be an equivalent to using a squat rack, barbell and weight plates for maximal strength training for larger muscle groups, functional trainers more than make up for this with versatility and functionality.
The functional trainer’s we carry at Fitness Town are made by the top fitness equipment brands in the world, including: Hoist, Torque, Life Fitness, Cybex, Keiser and Precor. If you have been to a gym in North America you have most likely used the cardio and strength equipment made by one or more of these brands. These brands are in gyms and high-end sports facilities worldwide for good reason. These companies are the innovators of the newest strength and cardio pieces and they invest in research to make sure their product provides the best feel and functionality for the user. In terms of functional trainers, they are usually dual rail cable systems that each have a 150lb weight stack with the option of increasing to a 200lb weight stack. Single column functional trainers are also available, such as the Hoist Mi5, which have some unique benefits compared to the dual rail systems.
Functional trainers are useful for all modes of resistance training: strength, hypertrophy, speed and power, and endurance. These machines provide the option to isolate single muscle groups or to perform full body and functional movements with resistance. Not only can you work any muscle group you want, you can do so in a number of different ways that incorporate different levels of core and abdominal activation. We usually describe 3 variations (although there are many more if you get creative) of how to do each exercise on a functional trainer.
For example, when doing a standard chest press you can perform the exercise the following 3 ways:
- While standing and using the handles to push the resistance away from you. This method makes the user fully engage their core, glutes, and major leg muscles to stabilize them while at the same time engaging their chest muscles.
- Sitting on an exercise ball while pushing the handles away from the body. This engages your core while also engaging the chest.
- Lying on a bench and pushing the handles upward like a classic bench press. This fully engages the chest with minimal core and leg activation.
Most functional trainers come with apps or brochures that make it easy to learn how to properly perform each exercise and how to learn new exercises. Personal trainers and fitness professionals are constantly creating new exercises that can be done on functional trainers for their clients or athletes. No other system allows for the sheer volume of exercises that can be performed on a functional trainer. From isolating smaller muscles to training full body explosive movements, these machines provide versatility that other strength equipment can’t. This is why you now see these machines in gym facilities worldwide, whether it is a public gym or private athletic facilities for major sports leagues. This is also the reason so many people are buying these machines for their homes or personal studios, because they are useful to the entire population, from the beginner to the elite athlete.