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What Makes Functional Training SO Much Better

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I truly hope you had a wonderful holiday! I always hope people see a time to balance their lives and let fitness be a part of making the core of their lives better. Of course after the holidays also becomes a great time where people start eyeing being more “serious” about their training. I find that all good and want to help inspire you not to just train harder, but to train much smarter. A lot of that has to go with understanding what functional training is and why we use it to get better results.

Why do I say better? After all, we live in a culture now where everything is good,  just depends who you are, right? I like to use this analogy, if I told you that you could make 5 million dollars but you don’t get any time with your family, no health benefits, and nothing other than your 5 million dollars you MIGHT say sweet! However, if I approach you with 4.5 million dollars, but you get to spend time with your family, you get full health and retirement benefits, you might actually consider the slightly lesser money option as the better overall life option right? You are getting more even though at first glance you are getting slightly less.

My analogy is really functional training versus bodybuilding. Listen, you aren’t a bad person or anything if you decide to bodybuild. I do believe that many who are using bodybuilding don’t know any other way. They see functional training for the circus tricks and “not serious” exercises. One of my personal favorites is when people say, “that’s too functional.” I use to scratch my head on what that meant, but then I realized it wasn’t a compliment.

Such statements go back to functional training failing to really help people understand the intent of the term. I’ve said many times, it just means improving how your body functions. That may sound oversimplified but it is far from. Mostly because people have NO IDEA how our body functions. In fact, I find it interesting that even physical therapists and other health practitioners that have been following us for years, JUST don’t get it. It isn’t their fault!

School still teaches “dead person anatomy” as strength coach, Mike Boyle, calls it. That means we have a cadaver on a table, yank on a muscle and see what happens. From that, we determine the “function” of the muscle. As much as we like to think this gives us great insights it does very little. A cadaver doesn’t have an operating nervous system, nor are we seeing the body controlling its own complex movement to see what muscles actually do.

That makes functional training a breeding ground for lots of debates. However, if we step back and look at the work that modern science is showing us, we start to see that what I said about understanding how the body functions is really coming into a greater understanding. Here are a few examples.

The Spiral Line

Only a couple of years ago I posted about the spiral line and social media BLEW UP at me calling it b.s. and a host of even nastier names. My first instinct was to become defensive but then I understood people just didn’t understand how the body worked so functional training could really never be accomplished. Fitness has been so defined by what an individual muscle does, if we can’t see it and make sense of it quickly then we write it off. However, as you see the spiral line is a VERY real thing!

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THE SPIRAL LINE (SPL) We’ve teamed up with “Anatomy Trains” @anatomytrainsofficial and created a 3D visual of the SPL The Spiral Line (SPL) loops around the body in a double helix, joining each side of the skull across the upper back to the opposite shoulder, and then around the ribs to cross in the front at the level of the navel to the same hip. From the hip, the Spiral Line passes like a 'jump rope' along the anterolateral thigh and shin to the medial longitudinal arch, passing under the foot and running up the back and outside of the leg to the ischium and across the midline to the long dorsal sacroiliac ligament, and from there to the erectors, so that we end up on the opposite side of the skull from where we started. This line stabilizes the body in all planes through its double enclosing loop. It connects the foot with the pelvis and is important in the regulation of the knee position when we walk. Want to see more? Login to the Strength app on all devices, go to Theory chapter and search for “Anatomy Trains” Thanks for watching, if you have any question or you want to get more info, please visit our website www.muscleandmotion.com or simply click the link in our bio @muscleandmotion 🕳🕳🕳🕳🕳🕳🕳🕳🕳🕳🕳🕳 🕳 🕳 #muscleandmotion #spl #muscleandfitness #fitness #fitnessapp #gym #gymnastic #training #fitnessmotivation #fitnesscoach #fitnessphysique #FitnessTrainer #fitnesstips #personaltrainer #crossfit #crossfittraining #sportschiro #strengthtraining #chiro #muscles #trx #cardio #anatomy #anatomytrains #3danatomy #anatomytrainsinmotion #anatomyandphysiology

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I know, you never thought about how your peroneus longus tendon could impact your hamstring, your low back, your shoulders, and even your neck! Most probably didn’t know such a tendon existed. What’s my point though? We talk all the time in DVRT why the foot is so important! That now you can see if you don’t create deliberate use of your feet you won’t use your glutes, your core muscles, or even your upper body to its full potential. Not only use it, but if we don’t use functional training we can build dysfunctional patterns in our body. So you can look great, but feel horrible!

Just showing this one fascial line (fascia is connective tissue that helps these muscles to “communicate” to one another). What can we learn about functional training and why it is so important to our training?

-Force comes from the ground up and our body responds to how stable of a foundation we create.

Physical therapist, Jessica Bento, shows how understanding functional training gives us the ability to create better solutions. 

-Our body doesn’t work in separate parts (no glutes, biceps, pecs, lats, NONE of it works by itself), but as an integrated system with specific chains that are made to work with one another.

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Great glutes are the thing that many want to achieve through their fitness program. Yet we still have such a poor understanding of how the glutes actually work. We keep throwing bands and a bunch of motions to our hip, but what are they actually designed to do in real life? ……. If we look at the functional anatomy of the #glutes we quickly realize these muscles are designed to do many things. Sure, they extend the hips but they also are postural muscles, they resist forces acting upon the body like when we walk or run, they help stabilize the SI Joint through force closure with the lats. The lats I say? …… Our glutes are closely connected with our core muscles (yes all 35 of them) including the lats. That is why when you look at this #DVRT series you see that we are “pulling apart” the Ultimate #Sandbag so we engage the lat, core connection through the weight of the Ultimate Sandbag and the tension we can create against it. ……. Since our body is designed to work in diagonal patterns, it makes sense that combining the above techniques with lift/chop patterns that are so commonly used in #physicaltherapy to restore function, we can have #hipthrusts that are actually designed for how our glutes really work! …… Oh yea, do I mention that your feet dictate so much of what happens to your glutes because force comes from the ground up. So using our marching and single leg progressions are so key. Great job by @passionfitness4life @theabsology @dvrtfitness_uk @larisalotz

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Understanding that the glutes work with other muscles to perform movement in real life makes us wonder why people try to isolate them? These hip bridge progressions show how we use chains along with the spiral line to build better progressions that truly build strong glutes. 

-The body works in opposites! Now you can see why we say a shoulder issue can be a core issue, a hip issue, even a lower leg issue. As physical therapist Diane Lee says, “the criminals never scream as loud as the victims”. We can’t just do “shoulder exercises” to fix the shoulder.

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Walking lunges are such a classic #gym exercise, but do you know there are great ways to make them more powerful and effective? These #DVRT variations show you how by focusing on #functionalfitness we can make even the familiar exercises so much more! ➡️ The Arc Press lunge by @larisalotz adds more stress laterally and requires more of our #corestrength to resist the extension of the body as we move the Ultimate #Sandbag over our head and side to side. Imagine having a moving #sideplank that ties in our upper body, core, and lower body. ➡️ @bjgaddour shows how we build reactive #strengthtraining of the core and #glutes . Being able to react to the moving weight of the Ultimate Sandbag requires more strength of our total body to stabilize as we move. Not only do we have to decelerate and accelerate our body but an “alive” weight. ➡️ @travis_moyer shows how we go to another level with this more dynamic training. The Around the World gives us even more of a challenge to keep our body integrated and creates a more powerful lift/chop with #plank . Being able to move with fluidity with such an unstable load really challenges our strength and #stabilitytraining . ➡️ @dvrtfitness_uk brings us all the way back with teaching us how to own the positions of #lunges before we bring it to more high level movements. Holding the hover position while using the Arc Press helps people learn that lunges are just as much about strength as they are stability and balance. That is great #functionaltraining !

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You see this reflected in the way we load the body and the movement patterns we use. We want the opposite shoulder and hip to be engaged as much as possible. Lunges, half kneeling, and sprinter stance positions are just some of the body positions we can use to really emphasize this concept. 

-Everything responds to what happens above and below. Your serratus anterior not working is probably more of a function of the neck, the core, and the hips. What is happening above and below the muscle and joint, muscles just don’t “forget” to work.

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Our MAX (multiple axis) movements are some of the most popular of our #DVRT system. Maybe because they look so unique, hopefully because they work so well for people. The most important part of doing these movements is understanding the intent behind them. If you don’t know the why, then not only do these become just “another” set of exercises, but you won’t get the results from them. That is because people miss the techniques that makes them so impactful to #functionalfitness programs. 💪 The whole idea of these MAX DVRT drills is that we are keeping the lumbar spine, hips, and lower body stable as we have some SLIGHT movement of the thoracic spine. Since many life and sporting movements requires mobility at the thoracic spine while stability at the lumbar spine and lower body, it makes sense we would progress our #strengthtraining in this manner. 💪 The fact our body likes to work in diagonals also helps the value of these exercises. However, how we build progression is key. While people are more familiar with the swinging of the Ultimate #Sandbag during our MAX drills, we actually start the series in the front loaded position. That is because we want to create tension in trying to “break” the Ultimate Sandbag apart and use our #plank to teach our body how to resist unwanted movement. We can do these through a series of progressions as you see as learning how to resist movement is one of the toughest, but most beneficial parts of such training. 💪 When we do move the more hip loaded position, we take advantage of the type of grip we can create by “pulling apart” the handles to give us that stability as we move to more reactive strength. Not relying on tension is a higher level of strength and that eventually takes us to our suitcase MAX series where we use the grip of the Ultimate Sandbag and the core tension of the #kettlebell to give us some stability as we move to higher levels of strength. 💪 The point is to see how everything has building blocks, but it all comes back to purpose and intent. When we have the why’s we give so much more power to our #workouts but we the knowledge behind the movements give us so much more power💪🏻

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Jessica shows again how we take this into consideration in how we use the Ultimate Sandbag and other tools to not just create load, but to develop this integration. We look for opportunities to allow the body to move in the way it was designed and to create specific challenges with this in mind!

-Many of the biggest and strongest muscles in our body are diagonal in nature meaning they perform multiple jobs at once. Often combining stabilizing (by resisting motion) and developing strength (in producing force).

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It often happens on social media to see an exercise and go, “what the heck was that?!” Being skeptical is actually helpful nowadays because there is just a lot of “stuff” floating around online. However, these 4 #DVRT drills are not just thrown together to look different! Integrating #kettlebells and our Ultimate Sandbag can actually serve great purpose and open up a bigger world of strength than we first imagine ______________ 💥 Why would we add these two tools to our lunges? They each give us unique opportunities to build specific strength qualities while also teaching the body about more sophisticated movement. What #dvrtfitness_uk shows is using the #kettlebell in the rack position to actually help us build core stability as we we react to the instability of both the Ultimate #Sandbag itself and the movement it creates in all 3 planes of motion. While lunging can be challenging on its own just to stabilize and be strong, when we build more sophisticated strength we look to build not just how much force our body can produce, but how much it can resist as well. Using the suitcase MAX position of the Ultimate Sandbag makes us not only have to lift the weight up, but react to the weight trying to pull us out of position. _____________ 💥 That can be SUPER challenging on its own and even strong lifters often have to find their footing a bit. So, what @larisalotz shows is a great way to build up to such movements. Holding the Ultimate Sandbag upon the shoulder wants to pull us off to the side, much like a moving side #plank . Having the kettlebell in the suitcase position and squeezing the handle hard allows us to build some counter strength and builds a diagonal loading pattern that matches up much like our movement when we walk and run. ______________ 💥 Then we have the ability to progress these ideas as @corymcripe shows. As the Ultimate Sandbag moves along his body, he focuses on driving his feet harder into the ground to get stability from the ground up. The pressing action of the kettlebell increases the demands of core and lower body stability to resist the longer lever arm. However, at the same time we are building strength in the shoulder

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When you see drills like the one’s above, it would be easy to say they are “too functional” however when you put them in context of how the body performs then it makes so much sense why these are more advanced functional training strategies. 

These topics can be really complex, but I hope as a teacher and a community we do a good job in breaking them down into the most important parts that are relevant to fitness training. Our understanding of the body is growing and that means our fitness has to adapt. I should say it doesn’t have to, but it should! Especially when it comes to delivering people more than a “muscle pump”.

I’ll admit, if you just want to get a singular big muscle, then isolating it makes sense, there is your 5 million dollars. However, if you want that muscle to be strong in and out of the gym, if you want that muscle to function correctly when you need it, if you want to be strong AND stable/mobile then maybe we have to sacrifice a bit of that money. However, we are going to overcompensate it delivering you WAY more in terms of how it will benefit your life!

Functional training isn’t replicating what we do in life, however it does make what we do in life better if we understand how our body functions!

Find out more about how we bring science to life. Save 30% off our DVRT Online education HERE with code “holiday30” and find out how to make your training much more effective and fun!

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