In rehabilitation, training does not necessarily have to involve weight bearing activities, but can target any task or a combination of tasks that a patient is having difficulty with. Balance (ability) training, for example, is often incorporated into a patient’s treatment plan if it has been impaired after injury or disease.
Functional training may lead to better muscular balance and joint stability, possibly decreasing the number of injuries sustained in an individual's performance in a sport. The benefits may arise from the use of training that emphasizes the body's natural ability to move in six degrees of freedom. In comparison, though machines appears to be safer to use, they restrict movements to a single plane of motion, which is an unnatural form of movement for the body and may potentially lead to faulty movement patterns or injury. Results of the study showed very substantial gains and benefits in the functional training group over fixed training equipment. Functional users had a 58% greater increase in strength over the fixed-form group. Their improvements in balance were 196% higher over fixed and reported an overall decrease in joint pain by 30%.
In addition, a recent study of the effectiveness of sandbag training on athletic conditioning, found that training with a variable load has significant cardiovascular benefits over conventional methods. The study compared subjects doing exercise with a sandbag, a kettlebell and battle ropes for 5:44 seconds each.
The study concluded that sandbag training burned 24% more calories over the other methods.