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Developing Better Functional Training Workouts

sandbag training

Last week we had a great time doing our first programming webinar and we greatly appreciate all the coaches that attended. For me, the most impactful lessons I can teach have to do with how you put all the pieces of the programming puzzle together. After all, functional training isn’t defined by an exercise or a tool, it is how you put everything together to reflect the principles of functional training.

functional training

We discussed a lot about having systems of training based on principles and concepts rather than just random exercises and methods. After all that is how you build success short and long-term. Part of that is realizing how frequently we train offers us different opportunities. If you are training 1-3 days a week, nothing but full body workouts make sense. However, as the question was asked, “what do we do if we or the client trains 4-5 times a week?”

My first question back is, “is training 4-5 times a week creating better results for that person than training 3 times a week?” Of course that may sound silly as we still like to think more is always better. Depending upon the age of the client, the stress levels of the client, and activity outside of the gym, we have to ask if they are achieving a better result by doing more or by doing less? For the sake of today’s post let’s assume that training 4-5 times a week is very positive for them.

The next question has to be, “what are we trying to achieve in our training?” If I am going after fat loss, or building muscle, or increasing strength in a specific lift, or training for a recreational sport, these can all require different types of workouts in those 4-5 days a week. It is also helpful to know if they are ONLY active when they train in the gym or do they perform recreational sports or like to do activities like hiking, jogging, etc. That will play a role in a what I choose to do and spend my time upon.

Without knowing such answers we are going to base this blog on the idea we are dealing with someone who is relatively fit, moves well, has no severe orthopedic issues, the only time they exercise is in the gym, and they have a combination of goals of losing some body fat, building some lean muscle, and they want to be stronger. Even with THAT said I would prefer to more clearly define those goals, but this is going to be generalization to help show how we can put the pieces of functional training together.

We still want to focus on the 7 foundational movement patterns (hip hinge, squat, lunge, push, pull, rotation, and locomotion) and we want to match that up with fitness qualities for each of the movement patterns (power, strength, hypertrophy, endurance, etc.). So, let’s look at an example of a program we could build with one style of DVRT functional training.

Workout 1

functional training

Note: Sprinter Stance High Pulls was supposed to be hip hinge/rotation as in resisting rotation

Workout 2

functional training

Note: USB Bent Rows also fill a hip hinge pattern and normally it wouldn’t be good to have a hip hinge followed by another hip hinge, but the loading in both on the low back is much less than if it was a power movement or heavy strength movement. 

Workout 3

functional training

Workout 4

functional training

So, if you wanted a 4 day a week example of how to use DVRT functional training to create 4 different but very purposeful workouts, there you have a great example. You see how we prioritize power and strength (because they are more neurologically demanding qualities) early in the circuit and we rotated the movement patterns that used these qualities. We then move to less intense movements that build other attributes and rotate those movement patterns throughout the week (we basically just periodized our program very easily). Using a circuit we can be time efficient and yet, still respect the rest intervals that are needed for the body to perform optimally.

Okay, but what about that 5th day? If we have the luxury to have a 5th day of training we have several options we can use and still keep true to our functional training principles…

-Make the workout more mobility and stability based.

-We can use flows or complexes for more hypertrophy based programming to help recovery.

-60 second on/60 second off intervals are great where we would focus on things like battle ropes, some mobility/strength drills, sleds, etc.

-We can get out of the gym and go for a hike, do field speed/agility/quickness type of drills to build athleticism but also power, stability, and conditioning.

-The workout can focus on yoga, tai chi, and similar like movement based systems.

The moral of the story is that we aren’t going to likely do a fifth really intense strength training session. I haven’t seen too many every day people that could recover adequately from such training. Remember, functional training or any strength training is only successful if the person can recover from the training. The recovery is where most of the results are achieved!

There are other ways we could structure such workouts and we will cover those in future blog posts, but hopefully that gives you a great start on how you can use DVRT functional training no matter the frequency of training that you have available. If we focus on concepts and principles the answers become more evident.

Don’t miss our 4th of July Sale of 30% off not only our Ultimate Sandbags HERE, but great educational programs like our Programming Course you can find HERE, our Programming Webinar HERE, and our awesome DVRT workout programs HERE. Just use code “july21” for a very limited time!

functional training