To be functional or not

I have spent my entire life exercising and studying movement. Over the past decade there has been a surge of personal trainers and gyms that claim they are specialist in functional movement and sports performance. This has really helped personal training become a career which is not limited to teaching people how to just squat and bench press.
But here is the question:

Does functional movement training and pre-habilitation exercise actually improve sports performance on the field? Or does sticking to basic weight training principles improve them more or just the same.

Before I continue this blog, I would like to say that I truly believe there is a place for both. I am just voicing my inner thoughts on how both of these things can be used for optimal effect.

I would like to start at the bottom… literally. Legs and gluteus. I am sure most people in my trade would agree that powerful legs are one of the, if not the most important factors in power sports. When i say power sports I mean any sport which requires explosive movements, changes in direction or changes in levels (height). So we have established, for the most part that soccer, football, tennis, hockey, lacrosse, boxing, mms, baseball, most track and field sports and basketball all require exceptional leg power.

Lets move upwards shall we… What goes around comes around. And the faster it does the faster a punch is landed, a ball is kicked or thrown. The quicker your leg can hit ground after a ‘spin’ move(NFL terminology for avoiding a tackle). Where does this rotation come from. If you look at Baukaw in the picture to the right, its pretty obvious where his rotational power comes from. The midsection. All high performance athletes have to have the ability to rotate at speed. Even the non athletic golfers have rotation second to none.

Up top. The shoulders, chest, upper back and arms are usually the messenger for all of the above. As you may have gathered i am just trying to explain how the chain of events occur. I am making generalizations because its easier that way. So lets move on…

What is better A wood chop on a BOSU ball or loading a bar to 50% of your 1 rep max and performing high speed squats or doing 3 sets of twelve like a bodybuilder? Who knows? The one thing I can be sure of is that exercise does not make the athlete. The athlete is born. If that was wrong then every kid sent to Twist training camps would be playing in the NHL!

In my opinion fundamental moments such as the squatting, sprinting, jumping, pull ups and pushups will give the same result to a naturally athletic person as all of these interesting movements and “functional” training methods. More than anything training outside the sport helps an athlete built mental toughness and it helps aid recovery and reduces risk of injury. But to say it can make an athlete a better one is doubtful.

As a side note the BOSU ball (designed for athletes) has been shunned recently by a lot of stregth coaches for its “lack of functional strength gains over squats…. hmmm..

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