| MICHAEL GREENHOUSE
MANY PEOPLE PERFORM strength training to look and feel good, but strength training can also help improve performance in athletics or in daily activities. To achieve greater goals, you should train your body in the way that the human body moves – functionally and beautifully. Movements that do not look smooth, clean, graceful or easy are likely movements that are not beneficial to positive training momentum.
There are many definitions of the term Functional Training:
- An exercise continuum involving balance and proprioception, performed with the feet on the ground and without machine assistance, such that strength is displayed in unstable conditions and body weight is managed in all movement planes (Boyle, 2003).
- Multi-joint, multi-planar, proprioceptive-enriched activity that involves deceleration (force reduction), acceleration (force production) and stabilization; controlled amounts of instability; and management of gravity, ground reaction forces and momentum (Gambetta & Gray, 1995; Gambetta, 1999).
- A spectrum of activities that condition the body consistent with its integrated movement and/or use (Santana, 2000).
Functional Training should supplement traditional weightlifting, rather than replace it. It provides variety and additional benefits that directly transfer to common sports and daily life movements.
When learning how to train functionally, a person should perform traditional strength training regularly. Functional movements should be slowly added using free weights (dumbbells and barbells, pulley/cable machines, bands, stability balls and suspension trainers).
Functional Training should mimic the movements of a sport or daily movement pattern while working against resistance. For best results when working with functional movements, train using movements that are equal to or greater than your current range of motion. Also, train the movement with a speed similar to how you normally perform the movement. Research indicates that training at high speeds improves human performance on dynamic movements better than training at low speeds.
When training functionally, you must train all muscles associated in a movement.If you throw a baseball, you primarily feel stress in the arm or shoulder, but in reality, your chest, back, legs, hips and core are being used in the actual throwing motion. If you want to increase your throwing performance you need to train all of these muscle groups to increase the strength skill of this movement. Using muscular contractions and speed of movement during training that are specific to the demands of the motion pattern will cause a higher success rate than simple, fixed movement patterns.
This should be a pleasant surprise: Me, a fitness professional and movement specialist, telling you to work less! You do not need to work on 10 fixed machines when you can do four exercises and get a better workout.
WORK FUNCTIONAL, NOT MECHANICAL!