In one of our previous articles, we talked about what strength training is, and broke it down further by defining what Functional Training is, which is a type of strength training.

In summary, we defined Functional Training as training that prepares you like you perform in sport or in real-life. Furthermore, Functional Training is a sport and athlete or client specific prescription of progressive, integrated multi-joint, multi-planar, proprioceptively-enriched movements or exercises at various loads and speeds. We broke this down further, by classifying exercises as either upper body pushing exercises, lower body pushing exercises, upper body pulling exercises, and lower body pulling exercises. With that, we can think of Functional Training as movement based training, wherein we train basic movement patterns.

However, for this article, we will only be diving in on Functional Training for the upper body.

Under upper body strength training, we can classify exercises as either upper body pushing exercises and upper body pulling exercises, which means are you pushing the weight away from you, or towards you? Under both, we can further classify them, as either having a vertical emphasis, or a horizontal emphasis. When we say vertical emphasis and horizontal emphasis, this pertains to the direction of where the movement is occurring. Are you pushing or pulling your arms in front of you? Or are you pushing or pulling your arms overhead? Furthermore, we can classify them as being executed by both arms, one arm, or alternating. To better understand here is a simple diagram:

Here are a few examples:

  1. Upper body pushing exercises with a vertical emphasis are basically shoulder/overhead pressing variations.
  2. Upper body pushing exercises with a horizontal emphasis are push-ups, dumbbell chest presses, and barbell bench presses.
  3. Upper body pulling exercises with a vertical emphasis are pulldowns, chin-ups, pull-ups.
  4. Upper body pulling exercise with a horizontal emphasis, are dumbbell rows, TRX rows, inverted rows.

Keep in mind that these are just a few examples and that there are a lot more exercises that you can do, which fall under these categories. Hopefully, we were able to help you out in better understanding what Functional Training for the upper body is. If you want to learn more, or experience our training system, you can drop by Focus Athletics or you can book your free-trial with one of our Performance Coaches.