Most of us are training for aesthetic reasons, to look good essentially. There may be exceptions, but most are looking to build muscle to show off, and anyone who says otherwise is likely a liar.
Yet, what good is having these muscles if you can’t use them? There are guys at the gym who are so big that they can barely move. This is not something I want personally.
Personally, I would like to be big and strong, AND be able to run, jump and whatever else I need to do on a daily basis.
So is this possible? Of course it is, but you will need to look at your training.
A functional bodybuilding program should hopefully help you to gain muscle mass while also helping to maintain or even improve your athleticism. Let’s look at this further. [toc]
What is Functional Training?
Functional training  is when you train multiple muscles together to help prepare you for everyday tasks by simulating common movements.
Most functional exercises will involve both the upper and lower body and will place a lot of emphasis on your core, and stability.
Why Do You Need Functional Training?
There are many reasons and benefits  to be gained from functional training, including:
#1: It Will Help Reduce the Risk of Injury
One of the main benefits of functional training is the reduced risk of injury.
If you have core weakness, muscle imbalances, musculoskeletal abnormalities or poor neuromuscular control then you are at a higher risk of injury .
Thankfully functional training could help to address all of these issues. This is because the movements you perform will help to engage your core.
The functional movements you perform will use the deep core muscles that lie beneath your six pack that protect your spine from excessive twisting and extending.
It can also address muscle imbalances and asymmetries, while also helping aid neuromuscular control.
Studies have shown that functional training is more effective for neuromuscular control than strength training .
#2: A Performance Boost
Another major benefit is better performance, both inside and out of the gym environment.
Traditional training may limit your movements, but functional training can imitate the movements you perform daily, this is called the “transfer effect”.
There is plenty of research that shows that strength and flexibility can improve with this type of training .
Rather than focussing on simple muscle contractions, you are doing a variety of balance, mobility and stability movements that will encourage your brain to focus and adapt to movement patterns.
#3: Better Ability to Burn Fat
Functional training tends to burn more fat than other forms of training as the movements uses are compound movements.
This means that you are using more than one muscle group at once.
Not only does this build more muscle, but also helps to burn more fat too. This is because of an effect called EPOC or Excess Post Oxygen Consumption.
This is the number of calories burnt after you have completed your workout.
Research has found that intense full-body workouts are more effective at burning calories than longer but less intense workouts .
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Train Like a Bodybuilder
Some of you may want to train like a bodybuilder, especially if you want to be a bodybuilder.
However, for most of us, this old-school style of training will not give you the results you would hope for. For instance, this style of training:
- Will not relate to everyday movements
- Will restrict your range of motion
- Shortens and tightens muscle tissue
- May lead to muscular imbalances
- Won’t develop stabiliser muscles
Of course, if your only aim is to look good and your fitness is unimportant then this style of training may suit you. Personally, I’d prefer to look good and be physically fit too.
Examples of Functional Bodybuilding Exercises
While the above video shows functional bodyweight exercises, any exercise that involves full-body motion while engaging your stability muscles will be good.
These types of exercise are important for preventing injury and will give you plenty of other benefits too.
Examples of functional bodybuilding exercises include:
- Front squats
- Kettlebell swings
- Squat press
You can combine any of these exercises to create your very own functional bodybuilding workout.
Further Tips for Muscle and Strength Gains
If you want to gain muscle and strength there are a few things you need to do:
#1: You Need to Recover to Grow
When you are training hard you are tearing your muscle fibres. This means that you need rest between workouts, at least 1 day of rest per week.
Of course, this does not mean that you have to have a complete rest. Active rest is ok too.
You can speed up recovery using plenty of methods. For instance, massages, ice baths and foam rolling can all aid in your recovery.
The most important aspect of your recovery, however, is sleep. You should aim to get a minimum of 7 hours of good quality sleep every night.
Good sleep helps your body to produce and release testosterone and human growth hormones that will aid recovery and help you to grow.
#2: You Need to Eat to Grow
If you are not eating enough, or enough of the right foods you are not going to gain muscle or strength, unfortunately.
While training is important, what you eat is even more important, which is why we wrote this in-depth article on what you should be eating to bulk up.
There are those who would choose to eat anything and everything while bulking (dirty bulk), but this is not something I would recommend.
You may gain mass, but you will also be gaining body fat too, which you will then need to lose in order to show off the fruits of your labour.
In my opinion, a clean bulk would be better. You may not gain as much mass, but what you will gain should be muscle rather than fat.
Conclusion: Is it Possible To Get Bigger Without Losing Athleticism?
It is certainly possible to gain size and strength while maintaining athleticism, just look at Internet sensation Jujimufu.
Lifting weights offers various benefits that can aid you in various aspects of your life, not just in the sporting arena either.
For many people, strength training will enable them to perform many tasks quicker and without suffering as much fatigue.
Some may find that too much muscle mass may hinder their athleticism but if this occurs you simply need to back off the hypertrophy training and adjust your future training programs.
Remember you are in control, you should train for your own needs, which sometimes will need a little tweaking to get the best results.