Functional Training. Two words that collectively mean so much and collectively are so misunderstood. Functional Training (FT) is NOT going through some pre-set TRX routines, bouncing some swiss/gym-balls around and then doing some planks. Seriously, some people out there have businesses that use the words Functional Training in their business name and are delivering stuff like I just described and telling people it’s functional training! Well it’s not.
FT should be easy to understand. After-all it really is first principles training. As human beings we have; arms, legs and brains; a kinetic chain linking it all and a central nervous system interfacing between all these components communicating via the brain. We inherently KNOW how to move and if we don’t these skills can be quickly adapted with simple hand-eye work. It’s stripping down a variety of movements (sporting and otherwise) to components that can be quickly and safely completed and then progressed which forms the basis of FT.
For example lets look at rotational stability. This is required for many activities from picking up a child and placing him/her in a high chair to a heap of different skills when playing sport, for instance catching/passing rugby/netball balls. Standing tall whilst holding a medicine ball out in front and rotating is a starting point. Increasing the weight of the ball increases the difficulty. Standing on a wobble board and going to a lighter ball is another increase in difficulty. And so is doing all of the afore-mentioned activities on 1 foot rather than 2! This is progressing a micro-skill in a functional environment.
Training functionally will help an individual activate muscles and mobilise joints in such a way that when it comes to daily activities, sporting or otherwise, optimal movement patterns are developed, stabilising muscles are are also activated and optimal neural activity occurs. All of this optimise’s performance and minimises injury rates. If you’re a sportsperson, you should be learning about this it will improve you!!
I always mention using machines that you see in gyms cannot be FT. It’s a mostly correct statement. Some machines such as TechnoGym Kinesis is a wonderful example of how technology can indeed help us in functional environment. Check out this link to the UFIT Facebook Page showing Kinesis in action. The link may not work if you’re not a FB user, sorry.
The team in the video is the Serbian Youth Olympic Games Basketball Team that recently won the gold medal here in Singapore. There are 4 Kinesis machines lined up alongside each other and they are using 2 of them here. This is an excellent piece of kit but very exxy!! BTW did you notice the athlete doing the planks in the background? Check it out again. What do you reckon of his form??
So my point is seek out FT as it really is the best type of training we all can engage in but be careful. There is a lot of confusion out there as to what FT really is and the saddest thing is it’s not difficult. People make it difficult by utilising “fad” equipment, by utilising existing equipment incorrectly, by not having a good enough understanding of basic physiology, by copying stuff they see others doing thinking it must be right and by simply being unqualified to be stating they are taking you through a functional workout. I’m sorry but it’s true….
Engage professionals that do know their business!!