Sunday, February 3, 2013

How functional is your training?

I was talking with a massage client today about my philosophy on training and he was asking what kind of exercise makes the most sense to me.  In the most basic terms, you could say that I'm a fan of functional training.  My reason for this is largely a result of my own journey into my current lifestyle.

I didn't exercise until I was in my late 20's. I'd always hated the idea of a gym with meatheads flexing their biceps in the mirror, and thought that most people in a gym must be there for their own vanity.  Then, through a series of events, I wound up finding myself training at several Crossfit gyms and enjoying the results I had outside the gym.  I eventually came to understand that what I was loving about it (beyond the much-discussed sense of community), was that I could actually understand how the movements I was doing in the gym would translate into real life.  My muscles might get bigger, but my workouts weren't about getting "the pump" in my biceps while I stared at myself in a mirror - they were about feeling better as I moved through life.

So when my client asked today, "If I work all the muscles by using different machines to work them all evenly, that's OK, right?"  I had to reply that I didn't think so, because that means you've never trained your body to use all those muscles together, or trained your core to transfer the weight of your child, or your groceries from your hands and shoulders through to your hips and legs.  Immediately he said it made perfect sense, and I got the impression I may have shifted this guy's paradigm a little bit with that touch of logic.  I can imagine him coming into the gym this week, looking at the sea of machines and asking himself: "what do I really stand to gain out of using these machines?  Are they helping me in my daily life?"

The training you are doing, including the movements you are performing, should logically support the activities you are training for.

Personally, I don't play any sports.  I'm not competing in bodybuilding or physique competitions.  I'm training for life, meaning that the movements I'm using should be the ones I will see in daily life...sitting, standing, lifting, running, walking, pushing, pulling, throwing...the things I might have done on the playground because they came naturally.

So, ask yourself: how functional is your training?