What’s in a word?

The term functional training has been around for years. When I first started working in the fitness industry “Functional Training” meant working with compound movements like Squats, Presses, and Rows.

In the recent past it has become an industry buzz-word. Some trainers have built their careers around this term while other greedy equipment manufacturers, eager to make a quick buck, have created scores of mediocre products that are somehow supposed to enhance ones ability to train “functionally” more so then another modality.

When I train myself or my clients, I am all about simplicity. I want to get my job done in the most efficient way possible, when it comes to time. Ask anyone who trains with me and they will tell you the training is always challenging but little if any time is ever wasted. If I am working with an athlete whose sport requires lifting weights with specific technique such as a power lifter or an Olympic style weightlifter then you better believe we will focus some time on lifting technique. But if my client just wants to be in better shape, then outside of safety considerations and proper form how or what we lift is not that important.

The tools we use and the exercises we perform with those tools are not functional merely because they exist. To quote my Friend, Tom Kelso, one of the brightest and best strength coaches I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with: “A functional’ exercise is any exercise you do that makes you stronger. Read: any exercise that creates overload on a muscle and is done progressively is functional. Last time I checked, ALL muscle groups were important at some point for proper athletic skill execution and injury prevention.

So don’t get too bogged down by what is functional and what is not. If you are training hard and safe and all of your major muscle groups are being challenged progressively, you are on the right track. Remember to design conditioning drills that match the energy system demands of your sport and you can’t go wrong.

Now get to it!