By Keith Domingue, The Results Factory Trainer and Contributor
“Functional training” You’ve heard the words before? What is it, exactly? If you watch commercials for athletic apparel or power drinks, you’d think it required elite athletic skills, superior strength, and perhaps a pro contract. In fact, it requires none of those.
Functional training, on its most basic level, is moving the body as it is designed to move. As kids, we all ran, jumped, climbed, twisted, and occasionally got in trouble for doing so if our parents asked us to sit still. As adults our world of movement gets smaller, but we still get in and out of cars, lift boxes and books, get on and off of couches, and occasionally get injured doing so, if we have become too sedentary in our lifestyle. How many times have you heard someone complain that they “tweaked their back” lifting a box? Hurt their shoulder, reaching for something lodged underneath the seat of a car? (I’ve had clients come to me after experiencing these exact things.)
“Spiderman, not the Hulk.” That’s what I tell clients, if they are familiar with comic book movie vernacular.
What that means is, once we assess and correct for muscular imbalance and deficiencies, we create exercises that use the body as a whole, and not that isolates one (or two) body parts at a time. We create a program that is designed to improve strength in ways that enhance and stabilize the performance of movements that are likely to be part of their daily activities, and thus make them easier to perform overall.
For an elite athlete, that exercise program may look like a Super bowl ad. And if they are lucky maybe it will help them win one.
But for someone who used to struggle to get up stairs, but now does not, or who used to strain to get in and out of their car, but now does not, it means living with less fear. It means living in a larger, more active physical world.
Keith Domingue has been a fitness coach for over ten years and is a Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.