Functional Training vs Gym

Functional Training vs Gym

This article can help you decide which training program suits you based on your goal, whether functional training or Gym.

I’ve shared everything about functional workouts and regular gym workouts, including their pros and cons, goals, exercise types, membership costs, and much more, to help you choose which is better for you.

Things you’ll see in this article.

  1. What is Functional Training?
  2. Functional Training Benefits
  3. Differences Between Functional and Gym Training

What Is Functional Training?

Functional training is a high-intensity training program that enhances strength, power, speed, endurance, and overall functional fitness.

Benefits of Functional Training

1. Enhance Cardiovascular Fitness

Functional training workouts decrease systolic blood pressure in healthy adults, lower resting heart rates, and increase aerobic capacity.

It also increases VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during exercise) and upgrades your cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

However, it is not suitable for people with any health issues, such as shortness of breath, high blood pressure, and physical injuries.

2. Increase Anaerobic Capacity

The anaerobic exercises are performed at a greater intensity, typically for 20 seconds to 2 minutes, to trigger lactic acid-forming.

Anaerobic activities, such as sprinting, fast pull-ups, and lifting weights explosively improve a person’s overall anaerobic capacity.

3. Improve Body Composition

Functional training is one of the best workout programs that improve overall body composition.

4. Psychological Benefits

Functional training Exercises are fun, exciting, effective, and challenging.

Completing functional workout WODs makes you feel delighted. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and enhances your overall mood.

Some studies also showed that functional training might increase the power to remember things, build self-confidence, and improve thinking.

5. Level Up Your Athleticism

functional training exercises help you gain muscle strength, power, and stamina. Not only this, but they also improve balance, increase flexibility, and take your athleticism to the next level.

6. Burn Calories and Help You Maintain Weight

Functional workout WOD is proven to be the best way to burn more calories than other forms of workout.

On average, an 85-kg male or 75-kg female will burn 15-18 calories per minute and 13-15 calories per minute, respectively, during a functional exercise circuit – an article published on the Healthline website suggested.

Functional Training vs Gym (The Ultimate Comparision)

CharacteristicFunctional WorkoutGym Training
IntensityModerate to HighLow to Moderate
Exercise TypeFree WeightsFree Weights & Machines
Number of Reps or SetsHigh Low
RiskHigher Than GymLower Than FT
Membership CostHighModerate
GoalImprove Strength, Power, and EnduranceBuild Muscle, Lose Weight, or Maintain Fitness
  1. Functional exercises are explosive, while gym workouts are performed at a moderate heart rate.
  2. Gym training involves performing bodyweight, free-weight, and resistance machine exercises, while functional training involves bodyweight and free-weight exercises.
  3. Functional training involves performing exercises in circuits, while regular gym workouts include traditional reps sets method.
  4. The risk of injuries is high in functional training compared to gym workouts.

1. Equipment Needed

Gyms are packed with various equipment, such as stationary bikes, benches, treadmills, rowing machines, core workout machines, smith machines, dumbbells, barbells, and plenty of other machines.

A well-equipment functional training gym also has multiple pieces of equipment, such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, plyometric boxes, pull-up bars, dip bars, Olympic bars, ballistic balls, and cardio machines.

2. Types of Exercises

functional training involves various exercises, from plyometrics and calisthenics to powerlifting and bodybuilding. For example, Badger (a functional training WOD) includes a strength exercise – squat clean, a bodyweight exercise – pull-ups, and an outdoor exercise – running.

On the other hand, a gym mostly includes strength exercises that can build muscles and sculpt your physique. For example, push exercises for training chest, shoulders, and triceps; pull exercises for bolstering back, biceps, and posterior delts; leg exercises for quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

3. Purpose of Training

The main goal of a gym-goer is to build strength and increase muscle mass or to be aesthetic.

However, functional training is great for overall fitness, as it boosts strength and endurance, improves explosiveness, builds and tones muscles, and helps you build an athletic shape.

4. Risk Component

The overall injury rate in functional training is approximately 20%.

The shoulders, lower back, and knees were the most common injuries revealed in that study.

However, risks related to gym exercises are comparatively lower than functional exercises.

The overall injury rate of gym workouts is approximately 10% because of the intensity, types, reps ranges, and explosiveness of the activities of the gym workouts.

So, if you fear injuries, you can do gym workouts.

5. Average Membership Cost

The price of membership depends on various factors such as location, goodwill, and accessibility.

Here is a chart of the average cost (in USD) of functional training vs Gym membership in top countries.

CountryTraditional Gym 1 The Price of a Gym Membership in 52 Countries Around the World – The Gate – Boarding Area Functional Training Gym
South Africa2172.93

Please note that these prices keep increasing because of demand and inflation.

Which is Better for Weight Loss Functional or Gym Training?

Both traditional gym workouts and functional workouts burn calories. However, functional exercises are more effective because they are highly intense, allowing your body to burn the maximum calories during and after the workouts and helping you lose weight gradually.

Which is more effective for muscle gain, gym or functional workout?

Gym workouts will help you build more muscles than functional training. But that doesn’t mean functional workouts don’t promote muscle gain. They do, but less than gym workouts.

There are several reasons why functional training is less effective than bodybuilding in terms of muscle gain.

1. functional training focuses on high volume, explosive sets, and metabolic conditioning routines.

The high-intensity nature of this type of workout allows your body to burn more calories throughout and later during the exercise.

And new muscles develop only with excess calories and not with the calorie deficit.

2. Your muscles do not get enough recovery time and muscle growth only when you rest your muscles with intense workouts.

With functional training, you work the same body parts almost every session, and as a result, your muscles never get enough time to recover and grow.

3. The lack of isolation exercises is one reason why functional training is not the best way to build muscles. Functional exercises are mainly compound movements that utilize several muscle groups at once.

Compound exercises are suitable for hypertrophy, but doing them with high rep ranges is not a good strategy for muscle growth.

4. Most functional workouts are high-intensity and too explosive, suitable for increasing athletic strength and burning calories.

Which One Should You Choose?

It depends on your fitness levels and what you desire to achieve.

Functional training is superior to gym exercises because they are fun, exciting, challenging, efficient, and adaptable.

The functional training program includes strength training, cardio, and powerlifting, making it a great option.

Functional workouts help you burn more calories, boost endurance, build and tone muscles, and improve body shape.

On the other hand, gym workouts help increase strength, beef up muscle mass, and develop a firm, aesthetic, and defined physique.

So, depending on your fitness level, you can do one of them.

Can You Do Functional and Gym Workouts Together?

Yes, you can combine functional training and Gym workouts into your workout regime.

You can do plenty of functional exercises in the regular Gym, such as clean and press, barbell thrusters, push jerks, pullups, dumbbell squat swings, thrusters, and deadlifts.

Doing Gym and functional workouts together can help you build a shredded and toned physique over time.


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Picture of Murshid Akram

Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of I help people achieve their best shape through my science-based and practical workout programs.
Picture of Murshid Akram

Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of I help people achieve their best shape through my science-based and practical workout programs.
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About Me

I’m Murshid Akram, a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of I primarily design workout plans and share science-based and practical information that can help you become stronger, functional, and healthier.

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