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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Functional training

Human's body is a kinetic chain, where each ligament and each muscle work together. The body recognizes four types of movements. It can stand and move on one leg or both legs, to push and pull, to change the level of center of balance and to make rotations.

Standing and moving- the holding or the change in the center of balance of the body on one foot or the other(running,walking, lunges and etc.).

Pushing and pulling- pushing simply means to push an object away from your body and pulling is to get an object closer towards your body( throwing a ball, rowing with resistance bands, drag tires and so on.)

The change of the level of center of balance- a movement of the torso, the lower part of the body or a combination of both( lifting a box, flipping tires, climbing stairs, squatting and etc.)

Rotation- the change of the direction that leads to a twist of the body.( a swing with a baseball bat, sledgehammer hits...)

Functional training is pretty much a combination of all the movements listed above. A lot of people make the mistake to spend hours in the globo gym, doing workouts that include a bunch of isolation movements and endless cardio sessions that lead to nothing but exhaustion. And all this with the hope that all this hard work will take us to dreamed body. But does it happen like this? How could you lift weights, if you can not lift your own body? To squeeze every muscle seperately is one thing, but to squeeze your whole body at the same time is totally different! The word functional means "productive", "useful" and that is exactly what functional training is all about. Functional training can be really useful for your health because most movements include a couple muscle groups and mimic the movements from your daily life. For example lifting a box or a child. Daily we are forced to do a bunch of similar movements and a lot of us tend to injure our lower backs because of the wrong technique. If we take for example the lifting of an object from the floor- this is a movement that requires strength in the legs, the back and the abdominal muscles. Also it leads to stress on the spine and the ankles. Only one movement and see how many muscles are involved? This is a simple example how the lack of strength in only one muslce, could lead to an injury!

Let's talk a little bit about the isolation movements, so you could see the difference. ( hope it won't be hard! :) ) The word "isolation" means "alone" or "separate". That is what isolation movements do. They put some load only on that exact muscle that is being trained, isolating the other muscles. When you move, your body uses a couple muscles at the same time, not just one. The big muscle groups "work" together with the smaller once and this is called synergy or in other words combined movement. Isolating some of the synergetic muscles you develop the others and the isolated muscle stays weaker compared to the others. As we already established for the right and save performance of a movement is required all the muscles to be synchronized. When one of them is weaker then the others that could easily lead to an injury. Let's take for example THE FAMOUS bicep curl. All that is required is flexing in the elbow. Now think how many times during the day do you make a movement that mimics a bicep curl? And to be more precise how much strength do you need if you do a similar movement? The only movement that resembles bicep curl to me and it is still not the same is probably the movement of your arm when you eat. Even if you eat your soup with a dipper, you still won't need a lot of strength! :)

The most important thing that functional training gives us is the knowledge and posssibility to train our whole body in the way we use it during a competition or just doing our daily tasks. I myself love doing things that help for other aspects of my life. Time is the most valuable resource that we have! Why wasting it, spending uncountable hours in the gym, doing endless number of isolation movements, which do not help us in any way...running till exhaustion on the treadmill and wondering why all these efforts never pay off? If you want your time in the gym to be worth it, and improve not only your body but also your quality of life...I sincerly encourage you to throw away the isoalation movements and leave them for people that are looking to waste time...and you...get to practice functional!


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