Are Single Joint Exercises Necessary if I am Only Functional Training?

The answer is yes, because single joint exercises can help prevent injury and maximize performance. 

First let’s talk about how incorporating a single joint exercise into your training can prevent injuries. In general, there are two different classifications of exercise: single joint and multi-joint. 

A single joint exercise is an exercise that targets only one muscle group. An example of this would be the cable pushdown which only targets the triceps. On the other hand, a multi-joint exercise works many different muscles simultaneously. An example of this would be the barbell bench press. This exercise is a multi-joint exercise because it targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Now let’s assume when you train upper body you only use the bench press and do not incorporate single joint exercises. This means you do not directly target the shoulders, biceps, or triceps. Eventually this could cause muscle injuries due to muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances are when one muscle becomes much stronger than the other muscle. Usually, injuries become much more likely when opposing muscle groups (biceps, triceps) are imbalanced.

Finally, performing single joint exercises maximize performance by helping all muscles in the body be as strong as possible. I would always recommend incorporating single joint exercises in your program if you want to stay injury free and perform your best.

About the author

MSc Epidemiology MSc Exercise and Nutrition Science CITI Human Subjects Training for Research Certified Sports Nutritionist Certified Personal Trainer

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