Functional Fitness Training

Are You Doing Your Workouts Wrong?

Author: Kai Fusser, MS

man exercising weight training silhouetteWe’ve all heard about “functional exercises” by now, but what does functional fitness training really mean?

Playing a sport, doing yard work or even day to day activities, requires the whole body to move all at the same time. Do you know of any sport (with the possible exception of arm wrestling) where only part of the body is in action?

A good workout is the sum of all muscles in our body working together. Not only do they need to work together but also at the right time. This ensures great efficiency as the loads on the body are distributed throughout the whole system, every muscle does its part, and they all help each other. This requires the nervous system to be trained to give the command to each muscle to work at the right time and at the right “volume”. This can be learned and practiced.

Knowing this fact, it is hard to understand that anyone would want to work out on a machine. Most gyms are now stuffed with all those high tech, futuristic looking, color coordinated machines, some even come with a belt to buckle up. Seated or strapped in you immediately isolate part of your body, therefore that isolated part cannot help the part that has to perform the movement.

This teaches the nervous system the wrong pattern. Not only that, the guided motion in machines are mostly “one size fits all”, our joints all move in slightly different angles but the machine will keep them from moving freely so they are pressed into a motion different from your individual movement pattern. This can result in extra stress on the joints, the surrounding ligaments and tendons.

It will also neglect to strengthen the surrounding tissue and stabilizing muscles, as the guided motion will not require your body to stabilize that joint. This can result in injury latter on as the “machine strengthened” muscle will pull against the still weak surrounding stabilizing tissue.

So in order to get a fully functional body for our sport (or even yard work etc. for that matter) we need to exercise functionally. This means we need to be standing up and perform movements where our whole body is involved, using our own body weight, dumbbells, barbells, cables and balls, there are literally thousands of ways we can move our body functionally.

By the way, our body was designed to move freely since the beginning of time, so who ever came up with the idea of restricting our movement?

The Bottom Line:

Get up on your feet and either move an object or yourself, that’s what our ancestors did.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.