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Functional Strength Training vs Traditional Apple Watch Training: What Is the Difference?

One of the best things about your Apple Watch is that it can help you keep track of your workout routine no matter how unique your exercise is.

When it comes to strength training, Apple Watches have two different modes that you can choose from, which are traditional and functional strength training. So what’s the difference between the two?

In today’s article, we’ll put the functional strength training vs traditional apple watch training, so you can figure out which one of them matches your goals. Let’s jump right in!

What Is Traditional Strength Training on Apple Watch?

Traditional strength training, also known as “resistance training”, is the type of training that involves working out isolated muscles or specific parts of the body in which you work the muscle out to exhaustion. It’s one of the two major strength training modes found in Apple Watches.

For example, workouts like shoulder press, bench press, and bicep curls are all workouts that fall under the category of traditional strength training. 

These exercises are usually performed with heavy weights, kettlebells, and dumbbells in sets of 3 to 5, each with 8 to 12 repetitions.

Since this type of training usually targets specific muscle groups at a time, they’re more likely to be trained together within a day. 

For that reason, if your workout routine involves leg days, arm days, chest days, etc, you’re doing traditional strength training.

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Traditional Strength Training Benefits

As you can see, with traditional strength exercise, you want a weight that is heavy enough to push your muscles to their limits.

As a result, this type of workout is ideal for any athlete who wants to build up specific muscles in their body.

Traditional strength training is also ideal for increasing the endurance of a specific part of the body. For example, runners like to increase the muscular mass of their calves, quads, and glutes.

Some studies also reported that traditional strength training will help increase the general density of bones around the muscles you’re training, which also reduces the risk of injuries.

What Is Functional Strength Training on Apple Watch?

Functional Strength training is a more generalized approach to working out, which is the other major strength training mode on Apple Watches.

If you’re practicing functional strength training, you’re not particularly focusing on a specific muscle that you want to strengthen or bulk up.

Instead, you’re training to improve your general ability to perform daily functions by making large body movements a lot easier, hence the name.

In this training, your workouts cover a wider range of muscle groups, so you focus on workouts and exercises that target multiple muscles at the same time as well as working out on specific machines or doing bodyweight exercises, such as jumping squats. 

Keep in mind that some functional strength training workouts may also include dumbbells and kettlebells, so it’s more about the nature of the exercises and the muscles worked than the tools used for the training itself.

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Functional Strength Training Benefits

This type of training is more about generalized benefits than visual gains. 

In other words, if you typically work out in Functional Strength Training mode, you may not notice a major increase in your muscle or bone mass, but you’ll be able to do everyday functions a lot better.

This includes daily chores, being able to carry items, and not being exhausted very easily. 

Which One Should You Choose on Your Apple Watch?

Each one of these modes has its own benefits, so the choice here depends on the goals you’re expecting from your exercise.

For example, if you’re more about training large muscle groups without equipment or with small dumbbells, the functional training mode might be more suitable for you.

On the other hand, if you like to focus on isolated muscles or you focus on weightlifting and bodybuilding, traditional strength training would be a better pick for you.

How to Choose the Strength Training Mode on Apple Watch

Both workout modes are found in your Apple watch if you’re using watchOS 7 and higher. Here’s how to set them up:

  1. Navigate to the workout app on your watch
  2. Scroll down until you find the “Others” tab, and click it
  3. If you’re focusing on “Functional Strength Training”, select the option from the main menu
  4. If you’re focusing on “Traditional Strength Training”, press “Add Workout”, then choose it from the menu.

For older WatchOS versions, while you may not find the strength training modes, you can still optimize it by opting for the “Other Workouts” option, which can track your bodyweight exercises and weightlifting.

Final Thoughts

This wraps it up for today’s guide that walks you through the differences and similarities between functional strength training and traditional strength training on Apple Watches.

As you can see, the two strength training modes are quite different, so the choice between them depends on your expectations and what you want to achieve by working out.