Functional what?

So if you’re in the fitness industry you have probably bastardised this term ‘functional training’ (or you continue to do so, tut tut). If you just attend the gym then you may not have even heard this term. Gym management staff are now calling it ‘freestyle’ training. Sorry, but I am calling it Gimmicky training. Yes, yet another attack on gimmicks.

So we have people standing on BOSUs (the half ball) or even swiss balls and squatting crazy weights and calling this functional. In this industry the term has become very cliche. Those calling this functional can only be forgiven if they have just come out of PT school. If there was a proper definition of functional training it would be one that acknowledges how the body manifests movement through the collective working of muscles, tendons and ligaments, proprioceptors, bones, joints etc. You end up with a science that is quite vast. Every movement then can become an exercise. People out there that are said to specialise in this kind of training are affiliated with a company called FASTERGLOBAL. Their work is interesting and I did a two-day foundational course in it with a trainer called Ben Cormac and learnt a great deal. My only jibe with it is that it didn’t give me a comprehensive programme and template to work according to like Circular Strength Training does.

So as a gym regular how do you make your workout more functional. For me you have to address pitfalls of your daily activity. We sit down alot so we should perform exercises that encourage us to really pop out those hips, in which case you get off that bloody treadmill and use the rower. I would say prefer step-ups over squats and lunges. When you shoulder press, make sure you start with your elbows stabbed in and not flaring out. Then get a proper extension of your arm to stretch out the arm line. Too many of us are training in a way that compounds the postural defects acquired from our sedentary lives. This is why many yoga and pilates entusiasts frown upon conventional training and I don’t blame them frankly. As trainers we should be striving to help people achieve that balance between strength and mobility.