In the old days people went into mega gyms and crowded around a bunch of very nice looking expensive machines and spent a lot time accomplishing very little. If they worked really hard they would get beach muscles and be very strong in limited motion exercises. Unfortunately, they would be unable to use that strength in a functional way since they had not developed the stabilizers and peripheral muscles necessary to do so. Modern gyms focus not on having rows of limited motion exercise machines but rather on having the tools necessary to provide functional workouts. These tools include medicine balls, agility ladders, plyometric (or jump) boxes, dumbbells, kettle bells, physioballs, cable machines, resistance tubes, and tractor tires.
What is functional training?
Functional training attempts to adapt or develop exercises which allow individuals to perform the activities of daily life more easily and without injuries. Simply put, being able to do things like lift up a chair in your home and move it without injury, or being able to carry your groceries, or even being able to get slammed on your back after being judo thrown to the mat.
An effective functional exercise program included the following elements:
- The program should be sport specific. If you do not compete or partake in a specific sport it should promote general athletic performance and strength.
- The program should have exercises that work on flexibility, core, balance, strength and power.
- The program should increase your core stability. In boxing and Muay Thai core stability is what allows the proper execution of punches and kicks. In grappling the core helps balance and composure.
- It shoud be progressive by increasing the strength demand from workout to workout.
- Functional training for competitive athletes needs to fit into their competitive cycle of competition. For a fighter, who may or may not have an “on season”, “off season”, and “pre/post season” we condense the competitive cycle to 8-12 weeks before a fight or competition and 2-4 weeks after.