FUNCTIONAL TRAINING

What defines Functional Exercise or Movement Patterns? What Considerations does Functional Programming Require?

Functional Training
• “Integrated, multi-planar movements that involve joint acceleration, stabilization, and deceleration, with the intent of improving movement ability, core strength, and neuromuscular efficiency.” • “Capable of operating or functioning, or capable of serving the purpose for which it was intended.”
- Webster’s Encyclopedia (2nd edition – 1996)

• “movements or exercises that improve one’s ability to complete their activities of daily living (ADL’s) with greater efficiency and effectiveness.” • “functional” is relative

Traditional Training

Programming Issue:

 Focus upon bodybuilding techniques  Less emphasis on kinetic chain integration

Functional Training

Program Design

Inappropriate Programming
 Lack neuromuscular efficiency  Lack core stabilization

Appropriate Programming
 Facilitate motor learning, NM adaptations, core stabilization, and joint integrity  Progressively challenging NM and proprioceptive systems

Functional Training
Another emerging trend:  Inclusion of static postural and kinetic chain assessment and programming as the framework for effective resistance training (the “straighten before you strengthen” notion)  Address correctable compensations, dysfunctions and core stabilization

Functional Training
Guidelines
Traditional movements focus upon:  Force production  Joint isolation and single plane movements  Often utilize external stabilizers such as chairs, benches, etc. Functional programs focus more upon:  Force reduction (deceleration of joints)  Multi-joint and multi-planar movement  Recruit body’s stabilizers & neutralizers to facilitate movement

Functional Training
  “Balance” and “Stabilization” “Stabilization” - ability of joint agonists / antagonists to co-contract and maintain supporting or non-moving joints position during movement. Achieving this position is termed “balance” Progression: program variable manipulation
1. 2. 3. Supported to unsupported or destabilized Bilateral to unilateral Fixed Lever to free moving lever

 

Include training skill-related parameters, neural pathways, and dynamic movements simultaneously Inclusion may add an element of creativity and enjoyment

Elements of Physical Fitness

Skill Related

Health Related

 Agility  Balance  Coordination  Speed  Power  Reaction Time

 Aerobic fitness  Flexibility  Body Composition  Muscular Strength  Muscular Endurance

Functional Training
 Many ADL’s involve multi-joint, multi-planar, dynamic patterns necessitating force transfer between extremities  Success is contingent upon the synergistic function of the core’s neuromuscular pathways, suggesting training for balance, proprioception, and force control  Weak and de-conditioned core exacerbates low back injury potential against dynamic / ballistic forces. A conditioned core:
1. 2. 3. 4. Improved movement efficiency Improved muscle balance and coordination Increased postural strength and control Increased strength and flexibility across the lumbar, pelvic and Sacro-Iliac joint 5. Minimized energy losses, improving force transfer

Functional Training
 Trainers often make the mistake of introducing core stabilization exercises after some degree of resistance training has already occurred. This would be similar to strengthening the foundation of the building after having constructed several floors  Postural exercises and stretches, and basic core stabilization exercises are an essential component to any initial program

Functional Training
Core Programming Guidelines
 1st phase: Core Stabilization:
 Movements involve fewer reps, low-moderate intensity, progressively longer duration.  Objective: Intrinsic stabilization, improved neuromuscular control

 2nd phase: Core Strengthening:
 Movements more dynamic, utilizing specific ROM versus BW or external resistance, in all planes of movement  Objective: Muscle strengthening, movement integration

 3rd phase: Core Power:
1. Forces generated and transferred at real-time speed. 2. Objective: Mimic ADL’s

Functional Training
Core Programming Guidelines
Progression within each phase (program variable manipulation):  Decreasing the base of support  Reducing the points of contact  Increase duration (static movements)  Static to dynamic movement patterns  Simple to more complex movement patterns  Increase repetitions (dynamic movements)  Slow to fast / ballistic movement patterns (mimic ADL’s)  Low force production to high force production

Functional Training
Remember, the goals of functional training are to:  Train movement patterns, not isolate muscles (integrate, not isolate)  Not to develop aesthetically pleasing muscles, but rather, to help your clients better meet the demands of daily life activities  Emphasize quality of movement over the quantity of movement Finally, functional training is always relative, specific to every individual’s Activities of Daily Living

• Contact Information:
• Fabio Comana • American Council on Exercise • Manager of Certification and Exam Development • Email: fabio.comana@acefitness.org

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