Friday, January 14, 2011

Oh no, not functional training!

Functional training...just the phrase makes many trainers shudder, myself included. Such a simple phrase has become bastardized to the point of non-recognition. It the most basic sense, functional means whatever it needs to mean to each individual. Functional strength for a professional bowler than for an NFL running back.

For whom is this functional?

With that being said, I think functional has a pretty specific meaning for everyone; and that relates to activities of daily living (ADL's). Specifically regarding the prehistoric movement patterns, movements that we are born doing well, and lose as we age. Squatting,  dead lifting, lunging, pushups and pullups. In my, completely unesteemed (yea, I know it's not a word!) opinion, these exercises are some of the most functional things you can do. If you can do these exercises well with no pain and good mobility, then you should have a pretty easy time doing most normal ADL's.

If only there was an exercise to make getting on and off this thing easier!!

I bring this up, because of a conversation I had at work the other day. I had just finished my workout and was having my post-workout shake and some cottage cheese while I copied down my clients programming for the evening. Someone looked over my shoulder and proceeded to ask "when are you gonna stop doing that stuff with him?" Confusedly, I asked what he was talking about. His response was "well, are you ever going to take him functional again? How long will the lifting last for?"

I nearly spit out my coffee, and I wasn't even drinking any! I didn't know how to respond. This guy, someone who was supposedly knowledgable on the subject, was suggesting that the stuff I was doing with this particular client was not functional training. I suppose he feels that the single leg bench touches and quad contractions are more functional, which is all well and good if you can give me a reason to back it up. I'm comfortable in the realization that, in this industry, there is more than one way to skin a long as you can back up your way of skinning the cat with some sort of plausible reasoning.

In the end, functional training is whatever you NEED it to be. In a perfect world, functional training would include things that would make everyone function better on a daily basis, but this isn't a perfect world unfortunately!

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