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Old 09-06-2011, 10:03 AM   #1
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Default Functional Strength

I don't pretend to understand the entire hoo-has around functional strength and why it's become such a buzzword in the fitness industry, but I will say that a lot of it confuses me.

I see guys telling me they want functional strength and not size, but yet they do 5 day bodybuilder bodypart splits that feature lots of isolation work.

If you want functional strength wouldn't it make sense to train the entire body as a unit, weeding out the fluff while focusing on bringing up strength in the primary movement planes, etc?

Push/Pull Horizontal.
Push/Pull Vertical.
Squat.
Deadlift/Hinge.
Loaded/Burden Carry.

On a personal noted, heavy lifting on basic compounds improved my athletic performance like night and day. I see no reason why novice athletes who want functional strength shouldn't focus on bringing up overall body strength first and foremost. Am I missing something? I am certainly no expert.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:29 AM   #2
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The term "functional strength" doesn't make any sense at all, and I get irritated everytime I hear it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BTB
On a personal noted, heavy lifting on basic compounds improved my athletic performance like night and day. I see no reason why novice athletes who want functional strength shouldn't focus on bringing up overall body strength first and foremost. Am I missing something? I am certainly no expert.
It only makes sense; outside of personal skill for the sport obviously. The body is made of muscle mass and the stronger/bigger it is, the more potential there is for increased performance.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:35 AM   #3
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Agreed. Steve, and GT-R you've both hit the nail on the head. It's just a buzzword, another buzzword that the 'fancy crowd' can yap on about at the water-cooler the next day.

There is no toning or shaping, there is no functional or unfunctional, there is no spot reduction and certainly no tricep kickbacks.

There is only stronger and weaker.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:39 AM   #4
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I see the term functional strength only to mean not training a muscle in total isolation, in a way that it won't be stronger when used as a whole, within a particular movement (bodily).

Not that I'm even sure that such a scenario can exist anyway; abs crunches will still make the abs stronger and therefore add functional strength, as will bicep curls etc.

Just a thought.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5kgLifter View Post
Not that I'm even sure that such a scenario can exist anyway; abs crunches will still make the abs stronger and therefore add functional strength, as will bicep curls etc.
Yes exactly.

What I feel is that it's a shame the dire state of training-information out there, has resulted in us needing a fancy buzzword to explain simply 'getting stronger'.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:42 AM   #6
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I'm hearing more and more of a backlash against the idea of specialized "functional" training. I think they came up with that term as a way of defending things like crossfit against the argument that it doesn't really make you that great at any one thing. I don't like it because it implies that becoming a specialized athlete somehow makes you less "functional" than being able to do 40 things, but none of them that awfully well.

I know that as I've prepared for my ship date, I've tried to become better at everything, but I haven't neglected getting stronger. I still want my lifts to go up, or at least stay the same. I'm not sure how being able to squat and bench well could actually hurt me as a solider as long as I don't have so much muscle that it gets in the way (trust me. . .not an issue!).
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:47 AM   #7
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My first year of hard training improved my vertical leap by at least 8 inches, turned me from a slug into a fast sprinter. and allowed me to absolutely crush a baseball.

Now that was functional.

I did a lot of squats and dips
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:56 AM   #8
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Strengthen the muscle, strengthen the performance.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:10 AM   #9
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Imo martial arts is the finest example of functional strength. The main difference in their training compared to most of ours is the use of many 'unilateral movements' (using only one side of the body).

While karate experts need a fair amount of raw strength; the bench press, squat, and deadlift do little for punching, throwing, hitting, and grabbing.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:25 AM   #10
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I suppose, in terms of sport specific functional strength, this vid helps to highlight that a deadlift may not be as ideal a tool as the progressive steps being taken below which are specific to attaining the goal of the Iron Cross:




When people talk "functional strength" it should be in relation to something in particular as Seth has pointed out already; most gym work (DL, squats, bench) will be perfectly functional for the ordinary man/woman just wanting to get stronger.

Functional strength though is just being bandied around by many who have no clue as to what they are talking about, if they are not being goal-specific in their functional strength outlook. Funtional Strength is the new Overtraining, a term that can be used to make people feel they know more than they really do, probably.
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