Start Here! Forums IAHNBO FITNESS Is your Functional Training really making you "Functional" ?

2 replies, 2 voices Last updated by  Michael Gee 3 years, 5 months ago
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  • #3520

    Michael Gee

    When I first learned that “functional Training” had started to emerge from the rehab centers into the fitness industry I got excited to say the least. I knew as a therapist everyone needed functional training and now the general public would be able to benefit from what we knew in the rehab setting. Unfortunately when I started observing what the fitness industry thought of as “functional training” was not functional, it was training dysfunction.

    What do I mean by that?

    Functional training is a very specific program that addresses a persons movement pattern dysfunctions and motor control problems. Many people have limitation is movement due to injuries, poor postural and training habits. These types of dysfunctions need very specific corrective approaches that the fitness industry and those who are promoting “functional training” are clearly not qualified to teach. It has become a big money maker and great way to engage clients into thinking they are doing something beneficial for their bodies while losing weight or getting a sexier butt. The truth is, most of the “functional training” programs I have witnessed fall short of what functional training is intended for. Just doing a bunch of “functional” exercises does not make your more functional unless you are aware of what the dysfunction is and how to perform a higher level “functionally” demanding exercise correctly.

    Most people think they are doing a particular exercise correctly based on the YouTube video they watched or an Instagram post. What I’ve witnessed is that most of the exercises people try to do are being done with compensated movement patterns and not focused on the actual purpose of the exercise.

    Let me give you one example: The famous “PLANK”. The one exercise I see EVERYONE doing.. and doing wrong. Try doing your plank with your palms facing upward and forearms rotated out like a V from your elbows to your wrist and pinching your shoulder blades together. Most people do the plank holding their hands, rounding their shoulders and hunching their back. All you are doing is reinforcing a dysfunctional Thoracic area and decreasing shoulder mobility. I will guarantee that performing a plank this way will be even harder because now you are actually working the upper extremity muscles as they should be, FUNCTIONALLY.

    There are countless exercises out there that have tremendous benefit, IF DONE CORRECTLY. Those same exercises when performed haphazardly will only lead to greater compensation, dysfunctions and eventually pain and injury.

    This leads me to the next point. How do you know if your functional training is actually producing results? You might feel stronger, but Is that strength because you are getting stronger in a compensation and reinforcing dysfunctions? you don’t know unless you are assessing the patterns before hand.

    This is the foundation to the ACM System where we focus on the fundamental movement patterns that MUST be present before you can even begin to do something “Functional”. If you have an inability to touch your toes or you have ankle mobility restrictions. Your functional training should be addressing those dysfunctions. 9 times out of 10 those functional training programs are just making the problem worse. You don’t know unless you are assessing first and after!

    Anyone can make you do a bunch of exercises, call them functional, make you breath hard and sweat, but does that really mean you are more functional? NO. Unless you are assessing !

    What exercise and programs have you been doing and what are your “Functional” results?

  • #3527

    Lisza Crisalle

    Wow – great explanation here Mike. I have been doing planks with my hands either straight forward, palms down, or hands clasped together – however I never hunch my shoulders in a plank. I cannot wait to try this form with my next plank.

    So my question back to you is how do you assess what your functional results are???

  • #3580

    Michael Gee

    Hey Lisza,
    You want to know how you assess for functional results? Great question.

    Functional results are not about how strong you are at one particular exercise or how ripped and cut you get, which is how most “fitness” results are based, right?. Functional results are better measured by what was dysfunctional to start with.

    So the better question is “How can you assess for DYSFUNCTION so you can understand if you are actually getting “FUNCTIONAL” results. Doing a Plank is a functional exercise, but does it really translate to the actions we make in the real world? For example, bending over to pick up your kid, or tie your shoes or walk up or down a flight of stairs? NO.

    Functional training should improve your ability to perform the activities of daily living, ADL’s, with less risk of pain and injury. From a sedentary person to an elite athlete the physical demands are different however the functional demands on the body start with a foundation of movement which the ACM System was designed to identify.

    It is essential to understand where you are starting on the “functional” spectrum to know if your functional results are being achieved, whether it be an individual who wants to enjoy playing with his kids to an elite athlete performing at a high level, the foundation of movement is the same for both and the ACM assessment system is used for all individuals.

    The ACM Fundamental Movement Pattern Assessment is your key to assessing the fundamental movement patterns that can be used to judge your progress with “Functional training”.

    Assess the 6 specific movement patterns of the ACM system to identify underlying dysfunction, perform the “functional training” that you would like and re-assess with the ACM movement pattern assessment again. If you have improved GREAT, keep doing what you are doing, if you find that you haven’t improved your movement pattern then the exercises you are doing are not working and in fact most likely creating a greater problem or reinforcing the dysfunction.

    Another way to determine your functional results is pain. If you experience pain or discomfort in a joint like your back, knees or shoulder for example. The functional exercises you are doing are not working! Pain is a strong indication of dysfunctional movement patterns and postural compensation and will only get worse if you are not addressing the specific problem.

    It’s critical to understand what the dysfunction is first! This is what the ACM system will teach you and more important the corrective approach that will allow you to move into more demanding “functional exercises”.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by  Michael Gee.

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