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How To Incorporate Functional Strength

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Why train for Functional Movements?


Functional Strength refers to the ability to work multiple muscle groups + joints (shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles) through a full range of motion [ see breakingmuscle.com ].

We're talking basics here. These 7 Functional Movements are at the core of not only athletic performance, but everyday activity:

  1. Squat

  2. Lunge

  3. Push

  4. Pull

  5. Hinge

  6. Twist

  7. Gait (Walk)

Because of our constant reliance of these moves, it's important to MASTER them.

Working these muscle groups has a direct impact on daily tasks — like walking, standing, lifting the clothes hamper, and pushing a grocery cart. As a result, the benefits of training for functional strength go far beyond athletics. These movements are essential to leading a healthy, mobile and pain-free lifestyle.


ATHLETES: let's take it a step further.


Functional strength applies to a multitude of positions across all sports.

The explosiveness gained from deadlifting is seen in running speed, throwing velocity, and vertical + lateral jumping.


Trunk rotation + hip mobility play crucial roles in the golf swing, a pitcher’s torque, and a cornerback's ability to adjust to a double move.

During competition, our focus is on the task at hand — we're thinking about the X's and O's! We have no brain capacity to waste on performing basic bodily movements. It's our duty to have them prepared BEFORE battle.


Here are some keys:

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE:

You don’t need a full gym or plenty of equipment. Improvise + keep your routine FRESH, as variation keeps you engaged and upbeat.

SMALL STEPS + QUICK BURSTS

Set aside 10 minutes blocks: training can be completed in short bursts throughout the day. Repetitions of simple movements are all you need to get rolling, and will establish the foundation of your functional strength.


Take advantage of those 3 minutes waiting for the coffee to brew or the Fortnite lobby to load. Use the counter to do a few standing push-ups. Set up a quick nighttime sit-up routine before jumping into bed.


There is absolutely no excuse for not training functional movement patterns. If you’re committed to improving your skillset, strength, and overall health, there are ways to improve throughout the day.


Here are Functional Lifts that translate to strength on the field, court, and diamond:


** DISCLAIMER: Weight-training requires knowledge of the body + the exercise (and often, a spotter). Be sure to educate yourself and master the MOVEMENT before throwing any real weight around.


1. [ Deadlift ]

There are endless variations of deadlifts, and as with most lifts, we recommend starting with just your bodyweight. Once you master the movement pattern, move on to one of the following variations.

  • Trap Bar Deadlift

  • Resistance Band Deadlift

  • Barbell Deadlift

Why Do It?

Deadlifts are one of the foundational exercises for Functional Strength. They incorporate multiple of muscle groups, including glutes and hamstrings, back, and arms. They’re great for developing BEASTLY power + explosion.


How To Do It:

Educate yourself by finding a guide/video that SHOWS you the technique. Remember: master the MOVEMENT before attacking high weight totals.

  • Weight On Heels

  • Slight Arch In Low Back

  • Chest Is Upright + Forward

  • Squeeze Glutes At Top

  • 5-8 Reps for 3-5 Sets

Here’s a good video featuring Kansas City Royals Pitcher Tim Collins that displays proper deadlift technique [ https://youtu.be/Gckx6_2lyZQ ]


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2. [ Kettlebell Press ]

Kettlebells (KB) are among the key tools attached to Functional Strength Training.


Why Do It?

Kettlebells are fantastic for improving stability while also increasing strength. Especially for overhead throwers (baseball/softball players, Quarterbacks, etc.), Arm + Shoulder stability is essential.


How To Do It:

  • Start from an ATHLETIC (squat) position,

  • Hold KB with both hands in front of shoulders

  • Drive weight UP, using your traps, back, + arms to control weight

  • Return weight to starting position + repeat

  • 5-10 Reps for 3-4 Sets

[ Joe Votto | 1B, Cincinnati Reds // stack.com ]



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3. [ Bulgarian (Split) Squat ]

Functional Strength begins with core/leg strength. The foundation starts with a solid core + lower half.


Why Do It?

That core + leg strength can be improved by doing Bulgarian (Split) Squats. They also improve stability in the lower half.


How To Do It:

  • Get into a split-stance with the rear foot elevated on a chair/box/bench

  • Keep chest up + front knee behind the toes

  • Squat/sink into hips until front knee is at 90-degree angle

  • DRIVE through front heel + return to starting position

  • Repeat; switch legs and repeat for opposite leg

  • ** Add weight by holding dumbbell, KB, or chains

  • 8-10 Reps for 3-4 Sets

[ see bodybuilding-wizard.com ]


Beyond the obvious benefits, NOT training functional mobility leaves you more at risk of injury.


Be good to your future self by fortifying these muscle groups to withstand the constant demand of athletics and the everyday grind.

Become a MASTER of Functional Movements (like the ones listed above) and improve your functioning as an athlete and in daily activity.


Further, being fluid in these patterns will aid in injury-prevention, keeping us on the field (or working) pain-free! Doing these movements throughout the day are correlated to higher levels of energy and improved posture.


Here's a recap of the health benefits:


RECAP:

- Improve functioning for daily activity

- Increase in strength/stability/mobility

- Enhances athletics performance for ALL athletes

- Injury prevention

- Increase energy levels

- Improve Posture


When you are out there trying to build up Functional Strength:

- IT WILL NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT

- IT WILL NOT HAPPEN WITHOUT A SOLID FOUNDATION


That is: if you are regularly eating unhealthy food, adequate sleep (7-9 hours!), + a commitment to consistency, it will be much more difficult to build + maintain strength..


If you’re an athlete that's SERIOUS about getting after it - LET'S WORK.


CALL or TEXT us directly for workouts, videos, and custom training plans [330.550.6627].


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