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S&C UnderGround >> Functional patterns


1/11/13 5:15 PM
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Jorx
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One must address proper muscle balance as well. There was a point in my athletic career where I could DL double bodyweight for 5 reps, however when lying on my stomach I could move my arms from side to front with 1 lbs dumbbells for only 3 reps.

Something was obviously wrong.

I was strong, but at the same time weak and "dysfunctional" for my sport.
1/11/13 5:47 PM
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Taku
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Agree with Gunslinger.

The fact is that strength = function. As my good friend Jim Schmitz likes to say. "You can never be too strong". Being stronger makes every single activity easier to participate in. For the elderly (something everyone one of us is going to be without escape) strength is the most important quality they can work on.

The need for maintaining an adequate base of strength is of utmost importants. I agree that the squatting pattern is key. However I don't feel that everyone can or should do Barbell squats. Working with older clients I have Five priority areas I focus on:

1. Squatting pattern: (A BB squat is fine however a leg press works well and is more user freindly to a broader population)

2. Neck Complex: Minimal work is 4-way neck + a shrug type movement

3. Rowing movement: Any type of row will work (machines again being most user freindly across populations)

4. Pushing movement. Here I prefer a Dip / Dip Machine / Decline Pressing motion (this pattern works major pushing muscles and translates to most natural movements of pushing oneself up out of a chair, etc)

5. Lower Back. This may be acomplished with various movements SLDL, Glute / Ham / 45 degree back ext / *Dedicated machine (*most user friendly).

Improvement in the above listed 5 movements = improvement in A.D.L. (Activities of Daily Living) 

I'll say it again, Strength = function.

TAKU

1/11/13 10:19 PM
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HULC
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Gunslinger,

If i quote your post it will just be quoted as a block and i won't be able to address your points piece by piece as i would like to. Instead i'm going to use quotation marks to pick out particular points.

"I can tell you it WILL help every person in normal everyday life 100% of the time. Your line of thinking is exactly what is wrong with the entire field of health and fitness."

Actually, you can't tell me it will help everyone, because that's a huge claim and you have no possible way of backing it up. It's hyperbole on a humongous scale. Also, if all you have read of mine is the 3 sentences above, then you have no idea what my "line of thinking" is to begin with.

"the base of strength on these movements 100% of the time makes the biggest difference in their abilities in everyday life"

More hyperbole. I've worked in construction, and on farms. And while strength built in the weight room can be helpful, at no point have i ever needed to be able to squat, press, etc, heavy weights in order to be able to carry out my job effectively. I've never needed a big squat to enable me to walk across country, go for a run, go for a swim, or do any of the activities i do in day to day life.

"I call them functional because they are basic movement patterns that EVERY HUMAN with two arms and two legs can do when they display healthy movement patterns"

If your definition of functional is simply a movement that every healthy human can do, then exercises such as bench presses, curls, lateral raises, etc, are under that umbrella too. In fact it's a hell of a lot easier for someone to injure themselves doing a deadlift than doing a curl.

"First of all, most people lose it very quickly in modern culture, to the point a lot of kids can't do it by the time they are in school. It's caused by loss of strength and muscle mass and loss of mobility."

Oh i agree. The constant sitting posture in western society, and the sedentary nature, wreak havoc in our bodies. And anyone interested in a healthy lifestyle will want to change that. But squatting on it's own won't turn around years of misuse. You need a good programme of stretching and mobilising to restore balance to the system, and a healthy lifestyle to restore muscle mass in the right places. Resistance training can accomplish that admirably - but it doesn't have to be squats even though they are a great exercise, or any "functional" exercise.

It doesn't even have to specifically be resistance training. You mention people from the third world, most of them exhibit much higher levels of fitness and mobility than the average westerner without ever lifting weights. They do this by simply living an active lifestyle - the most functional of all exercises.

"those 'functional' skills you list are all fixed and bettered simply by improving the above by learning the squat."

You're overstating the case. If someone wants to get better at running then they should run. If they want to get better at walking then they should walk more. If someone wants to get better at swimming or climbing then squats won't help them at all. There are world champions in various sports who have never done the exercises you're touting, so they are hardly a requirement for the much lower stresses of your average person going about his life.

More over you're simply listing the benefits of resistance training, not showing how doing "functional" resistance training is in any way superior.

Resistance training is very healthy, and very helpful in a lot of cases. It isn't essential. "functional" weight training included.

"Let's take getting an old man to do dips and pullups to the point he can do 12 reps with 40lbs added, which is doable for anyone fairly easily. That will do anything climbing a wall can do for him without having to learn how to do rock climbing and with less than 100 dollars of gear. It'll also do most anything for his body that swimming could ever produce, without the common overuse injuries that often accompany swimming."

You've completely missed the point.

Doing dips and pull ups won't help the someone if they're ever in a situation where they need to climb over something.

Dips and pull ups won't help someone if they ever fall into deep water.

Swimming is a skill that can save a life. Climbing, walking rough terrain, running, are probably not going to save too many lives. But they will make life a lot easier if people are capable at these skills when/if they come across the need for them in real life.

Resistance training of any kind isn't going to be a necessity in the daily life of the vast majority of people. It's healthy, but it isn't "functional" by the definition i used above.

Also, the "functional" exercises you're talking of have no greater carry over into non-weight room arena than any other type of resistance training.

"You talk about anything more than what you listed as being specific. I'm saying what I posted is as general as it gets-because they are basic movement patternes! In my opinion, when you get to swimming and climbing, you are talking specifics that are useful for those things with a little peripheral use. I'm talking body health into old age."

It was a short list, it wasn't meant to be exhaustive or definitive. But my above points remain. I can extend my arm in a straight line from my chest - by your logic that makes bench press a functional exercise. I can curl my hand towards my shoulder - so curls are "functional". I can lift my heel towards my butt - so hamstring curls are "functional". Etc.

Swimming, running, walking over rough ground, etc, are skills that almost anyone living an active life will have need of at some point or another. They are the most functional of all skills. Anything done in the weight room is far more peripheral.

To reiterate, a lot of people in the west today are fat, lazy, unhealthy, and stiff. They need to address these issues. Resistance training combined with a good mobility program is an excellent way to do it. But it doesn't have anything to do with being "functional" or having to stick to certain exercises that claim to be more "functional" than others.
1/12/13 12:21 AM
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The Gunslinger
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I'm going to be away for the weekend and I'll try to remember to get back to this on Monday, but I'll just say this:

I think you are confusing 'functional' with being specific tasks, skills or activities that people are most likely to do... This is the line of thinking that something must be exactly the task done to be of any use, in other words, you never actually throw a sack of feed on your back and squat it when working on a farm, therefore squatting isn't functional to working on a farm. And that running improves running and squatting does not. what I'm getting at is not that squatting will somehow produce a superior runner, but that if you are able to squat you will be able to run. The reverse is definitely not true. I'm definitely not saying it makes for a superior runner vs running.

Then you make the assumption that if it is a movement that can be strengthened it is therefore functional by my definition, (a curl or leg curl) which is not, but like I said that doesn't mean it isn't useful, it is just not a basic human movement therefore not functional. There is a reason that squats, deadlifts, dips, presses, and pullups produce great results where as a program of leg extensions, leg curls, pulldowns, curls, and kickbacks do not even though they basically work the same muscles.

Functional in my opinion is not skill, it is irreducible full range natural, loadable movements. I'm not saying that I have the perfect definition by any means either.

There is a reason Taku agrees with my assessment at the base level. We could probably differ on a lot of things, but mostly we would agree. That is because we've both worked with A LOT of people and have seen the benefits of this kind of training.

I got in way more depth than I planned without saying everything... I'll try to remember to get back to this on Monday.
1/12/13 1:08 AM
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Shortkick
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Good discussion.. everyone is making some valid point's Phone Post
1/12/13 3:25 AM
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Taku
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Edited: 01/12/13 3:52 AM
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HULC,

If one has lost the ability to walk easily, gaining strength will improve ones ability to walk. I have seen this first hand in working with elderly clients who with brief, effective strength training programs improved their function dramatically. By dramatically, I mean I've had clients who required the use of a walker be able to walk without one. I've had clients who could not easily sit down on the floor and stand back up un-assisted, be able to do so.

In countries where people are active and remain active throughout their lives, I can see how outside strength training may not be required. However, in modern western culture it is not unusual for those who are progressing in age to be less active and to lose muscle mass and mobility. Regular brief, effective strength training is a wonderful way to keep both mobility and strength easily. Also once a certain threshold of loss has been passed, (either mobilty or strength) strength training becomes a much more efficient and effectiv e fix then most other activities.

In other words, if you have lost the the ability to walk easily, walking will not improve this problem. If you have lost the ability to swim, swimming will not fix it. Becoming stronger first, with completely unrelated activities, will be a benefit.

TAKU

 

1/12/13 4:09 AM
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Taku
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Do not confuse the terms skills and abilities. Skills are the actual movements you perform. A skill is learned through practice. Throwing or punting a football, serving a tennis ball, shooting a basketball, executing an arm-bar are all skills.
 
Abilities are the physical qualities used to perform the skill. Abilities include speed, power, strength, flexibility, balance, timing, explosiveness, agility, reaction time, coordination and endurance. Make minor changes to a skill and a different combination of abilities will change. The amount of those specific abilities to perform the skill will also change to meet the specific demands of that new skill.
 
Skill transfer is a term used to describe the impact that the practice of one skill has on another. There are three types of transfer: Positive, negative, and neutral.
 
Positive transfer occurs by rehearsing the exact skills used to perform a task. Motor learning experts agree that it is impossible to reproduce the neuromuscular pattern used to perform a skill, unless that specific skill is performed. This is best defined by the specificity of motor learning principle. Motor learning expert John Drowatzky states, “transfer occurs only when the practice units or parts are identical to those contained in the criterion task.”
 
Brian Sharkey, in his text, Physiology Of Fitness, states, “Skill is achieved by practice. Every skill is specific; therefore each must be learned individually. Ability in tennis doesn’t assure success in badminton, squash, or racquetball; skill doesn’t transfer as readily as was once thought.” Neutral transfer describes a different skill or activity that won’t help or hurt the development of another skill. Neutral transfer results in no transfer, good or bad. You periodically hear of an athlete in one sport such as football touting the positive impact an activity had on his performance. The activities might include karate, judo, ballet, aerobics, juggling, hitting a speed bag, jumping rope, and many others. Noted author and exercise physiology expert Brian Sharkey states, “The recent fad of basketball players in ballet classes is likely to result in a profound cultural experience - both for the players and the ballet teacher - and it is sure to make the athletes better dancers.”
 
Coaches and athletes often credit the positive impact one skill has on the improvement of another. We’ve all heard, “jump rope to improve foot speed and hit the speed bag to improve hand speed.” Jumping rope will improve your skill to jump rope and hitting a speed bag will improve your skill to hit a speed bag. These skills do not transfer to the skills used to play football for instance.
 
Jump rope to develop aerobic fitness and the skills to jump rope...not to improve your foot speed. Improve your ability to back pedal and change direction while reacting to a receiver running a route... by actually covering a receiver.
 
As I said before, you can never be too strong, and being stronger makes everything else easier to do.
 
The development of muscular strength is the general progression of increasing the muscle’s ability to produce force. In other words, strength is a non-specific adaptation developed in the weight room whereas skills are a specific adaptation developed through guided practice. As a result, strength is developed physically in the weight room, which by a separate process is developed mechanically outside the weight room. Simply stated, you build muscle in the weight room and movement outside the weight room.
 
TAKU
1/12/13 11:59 AM
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HULC
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"I'm going to be away for the weekend and I'll try to remember to get back to this on Monday, but I'll just say this:"

No worries, it's not a race.

"I think you are confusing 'functional' with being specific tasks, skills or activities that people are most likely to do"

I don't think it's confusion, it's just disagreement. If you're not likely to use something in your daily life then it's not functional. I reject in general the idea that any specific set of exercises done in the weight room will make you a better athlete across the board.

"what I'm getting at is not that squatting will somehow produce a superior runner, but that if you are able to squat you will be able to run."

And i still disagree with that. I know people who have decent squat numbers who are neither fast runners or durable runners. I know people who resistance train regularly who have horrible flexibility and mobility too.

"Then you make the assumption that if it is a movement that can be strengthened it is therefore functional by my definition, (a curl or leg curl) which is not, but like I said that doesn't mean it isn't useful, it is just not a basic human movement therefore not functional."

In what way is lifting my palm towards my shoulder not a basic human movement? Or curling my leg? Or extending my arm in a straight line? My son could do all of those things before he ever learnt to walk or squat. You haven't shown any way in which these movements are any less "basic human movements" than squatting or deadlifting. You keep using terms like "basic movement patterns" or "basic human movement" without giving any definition of what they actually mean, or explaining how you are describing some movements as NOT basic human movement patterns.


You've said you'll get back in more detail on Monday so i'll wait til then. But generally my disagreement with you comes down to 2 points. One is the functional label in general - to me it has no validity. There are no magical exercises that translate to all areas of human activity. The second is that you list the benefits of resistance training as if they only occur with certain types of resistance training. As long as the stimulus is high enough then the benefits of resistance training - increased bone density, increased muscle mass, strengthening of connective tissues, etc - will occur in the muscles used regardless of the particular exercise. Bench presses, lat pull downs, and smith machine squats, would trigger the same responses.
1/12/13 12:17 PM
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HULC
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Taku - 

HULC,

If one has lost the ability to walk easily, gaining strength will improve ones ability to walk. I have seen this first hand in working with elderly clients who with brief, effective strength training programs improved their function dramatically. By dramatically, I mean I've had clients who required the use of a walker be able to walk without one. I've had clients who could not easily sit down on the floor and stand back up un-assisted, be able to do so.

In countries where people are active and remain active throughout their lives, I can see how outside strength training may not be required. However, in modern western culture it is not unusual for those who are progressing in age to be less active and to lose muscle mass and mobility. Regular brief, effective strength training is a wonderful way to keep both mobility and strength easily. Also once a certain threshold of loss has been passed, (either mobilty or strength) strength training becomes a much more efficient and effectiv e fix then most other activities.

In other words, if you have lost the the ability to walk easily, walking will not improve this problem. If you have lost the ability to swim, swimming will not fix it. Becoming stronger first, with completely unrelated activities, will be a benefit.

TAKU

 


Taku,

With respect we're talking about different things. In the case of people with specific disabilities - whether they are age related, injury related, or whatever - then obviously you need to address the problems directly with appropriate exercises and scale the intensity/duration to their abilities. If someone is lacking strength, then they should address that. If they are lacking mobility, then they should address that, etc.

I was talking more of an assumed average person, with an average level of fitness. And as i said above, i don't believe there are really any specific exercises that can lay claim to being functional. I think the only activities that come close to being accurately described as functional are those activities that people will encounter during their daily life that they may need to improve on.

Or let me put it another way. Training doesn't have to be "functional" to be healthy. Regular strength training and regular cardio training are extremely healthy and would be a benefit to a large amount of people. But i don't believe they need to be of a particular type, and i don't believe they will in general make people better at specific activities.
1/12/13 3:45 PM
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Taku
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HULC,

You said: "Training doesn't have to be "functional" to be healthy. Regular strength training and regular cardio training are extremely healthy and would be a benefit to a large amount of people. But i don't believe they need to be of a particular type, and i don't believe they will in general make people better at specific activities."

I understand what you are saying. And I agree for the most part. I do not belive there is one type of exercise that is automatically functional. I feel that having more strength improves what function we have. No specific exercise will turn you into a world class runner, but getting stronger will make one run faster than when they were less strong.    

 A “functional' exercise is any exercise you do that makes you stronger. Read: any exercise that creates overload on a muscle and is done progressively is “functional.” Last time I checked, ALL muscle groups were important at some point for proper athletic skill execution and injury prevention.

TAKU

 

1/12/13 10:42 PM
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Chocolate Shatner
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I challenge TAKU to show how stengenthing my little toe and it's attaching musculature is functional.

HA!

J/K
1/13/13 12:48 AM
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Taku
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Hey C.S.

Who knows...It might just help.

Now get to work on that toe.

TAKU

1/13/13 4:25 AM
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Chocolate Shatner
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I'm having trouble attaching the kettlebell to my toe. Do you use 5/16" or 3/8" titanium chain?
1/15/13 2:34 PM
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The Gunslinger
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Ok, let's see if I can get back to this after my head has been out of the discussion for a few days.

I do agree with Taku, strength itself is functional. There are a lot of legitimate ways to build it.

I believe that all exercise is GPP, specifics are for sports. However, GPP (strength, conditioning) will help with specifics to sports. The same is for daily life. When you train as a normal person (say you are a farmer) you are training to keep your overall body healthy and to allow you to more easily do the tasks you must do. This doesn't mean mimicking the stuff you do on the farm-in fact this could add to imbalances which can cause a slew of problems. No, you strengthen your entire body in a balanced way and work your energy systems.

The reason I write the above stuff is just to show where I'm coming from in all of this, because I think it is completely different than what you are talking about. Which, as I said, is a problem in the health and fitness community. I believe that general is better than specific when it comes to fitness and doubly so for health. By this I trying to mimic the stuff you do daily or in sport actually ruins your ability. I even think that taking a football player and saying that 'incline benching is closer to how you push on the line, therefore incline benching is better for football' is incorrect thinking. What is needed is to strengthen the entire body to deliver and withstand force. You do this by strengthening the entire body. And this style has been used just as successfully, if not more successfully in sports and for average joes. I would challenge anyone to be able to tell the difference in how any football player lifts in the weight room. You can't because those things don't matter as much as getting stronger in general. I would go a tier above that in saying that the same lifts that help a football player would help a wrestler, the only difference would be in limiting weight gain, and the same lifts would help a baseball player. Too many people think they need specifics for every small detail in every sport... and the same applies to daily living.

Most people are never going to have to lift something 400lbs off the ground in real life under most circumstances. But learning to lift heavy correctly and being able to lift 400lbs off the ground will surely stop you from being injured lifting a 10lb box off the ground because you have learned and practiced the mechanics to lift much heavier objects and you have built a level of strength that will make you unable to be injured lifting the 10lb box. Along the same lines when you have to lift an odd object that weighs 150lbs that doesn't allow proper lifting mechanics, you will surely be less likely to get injured because you've built a level of strength that will allow you to lift in that manner without getting injured.

Couple with numerous benefits of getting stronger, the effects on metabolism (not just the speed but many metabolic processes), stopping loss of muscle as we age, strong bones, ligaments, and tendons, among other things, it would be difficult to determine why we wouldn't make lifting the number 1 priority for health. Literally nothing else gives as many health benefits and the time needed to put in to get results is very small.

As far as functional movements go, I have said squats, deadlifts, presses, dips, pullups, loaded carries. A big thing for me that makes these better than seemingly similar alternatives is that you are moving your body through space. It is my contention that dips are better than bench presses because you move your body through space. Overhead presses are the only possible exception-but even when done properly the body doesn't remain still, you will move under the bar. I would posit that a handstand pushup done on parallettes would be more effective than overhead pressing if it could be conveniently weighted like a barbell. This is also probably why gymnasts display very good muscle mass and strength, they are always moving and stabilizing their body through space. I realized long ago in my lifting career that when I did movements that required me to move my body through space they were much more effective than when I moved an object without moving my body. You'll realize that something like a bench press, curl, cable crossovers and much of the tomfoolery that goes on in gyms don't meet the above criteria. Consequently, most people don't get anywhere in their 'training'.

Now with that said, that doesn't mean that things that other exercises aren't worth doing, but a program based on movements that meet criteria above will be optimal. For example a bench press can be highly effective when put into the context of a good program. There are advantage to it-the bench does most of the stabilizing, allow very heavy weights, which will allow for good mass and strength building. This same thing is its downfall as it is a great way to ruin flexibility of the shoulder joint and weaken the rotator cuffs. The opposing muscles of the chest and front delts are minimally or not worked at all, which results in imbalances. Of course that is if it is part of a balanced program-and it usually never is, even in some of the more popular, supposedly balanced programs out there. As Taku stated, the leg press can be a great machine for working the legs, the only short coming is lack of the hip extension aspect that is a part of the barbell squat, and lack of spinal loading, which is important, contrary to what conventional wisdom would have you believe.

I'm going to cut it off there, because I'm going to get to the point of being too wordy.
1/15/13 8:11 PM
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Taku
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Edited: 01/15/13 8:12 PM
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Gunslinger,

Awesome post brother.

"What is needed is to strengthen the entire body to deliver and withstand force. You do this by strengthening the entire body. And this style has been used just as successfully, if not more successfully in sports and for average joes. I would challenge anyone to be able to tell the difference in how any football player lifts in the weight room. You can't because those things don't matter as much as getting stronger in general. I would go a tier above that in saying that the same lifts that help a football player would help a wrestler, the only difference would be in limiting weight gain, and the same lifts would help a baseball player. Too many people think they need specifics for every small detail in every sport... and the same applies to daily living." <---Agree with this entire paragraph.

As I said above: A “functional' exercise is any exercise you do that makes you stronger. Read: any exercise that creates overload on a muscle and is done progressively is “functional.” Last time I checked, ALL muscle groups were important at some point for proper athletic skill execution and injury prevention.

TAKU
 


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