By Rob Seagreen, Fitness Director at Arena MMA and Fitness Center
Basics and fundamentals of what should be incorporated in a functional training regime consisting of fitness, strength, flexibility and power.
Functional fitness is definitely the way to train now and top athletes all over the world acknowledge this. You will see more and more top sports teams using training methods never used before, such as primal movements, bodyweight training, calisthenics, plyometrics and flexibility. Bodyweight training is available to everyone and there is no longer the “I can’t afford gym membership” excuse.
Not only does this improve strength, it also improves core strength. Core strength and flexibility is what gives you the ability to do all those lovely gymnastics moves you see people doing. This is calisthenics!
But what if your balance is not that great?
You fall over when you stand on one leg, never mind trying to do a handstand. Well, as Charles Poliquin states, “in adults, balance can be regained, not taught. If you don’t already have balance skills by age 12, you’re not going to improve dramatically as an adult. It’s a waste of time.” This is often sold as “core training,” which is essentially like saying diet Pepsi will help you burn fat! It’s never going to happen.
The reality is, in order to improve your strength, you need to train strength. What stops you from falling over is the lack of strength in a specific area. Your core consists of anything that stabilizes you; your ankle, glutes, midline, hip flexors, etc. Any muscle that needs to be activated in order to keep you from falling over like a baby trying to take his first steps is your core stability.
Another great tool for improving strength is suspension training.
Suspension training creates an unstable platform on which to train and forces you to activate the stabilizers around the joints and trunk. For instance, if you did a push up on the floor, you would be on a nice solid surface that would enable you to push yourself up with ease. However, if you were to suspend yourself on two TRX suspension trainers, this involves a whole lot more focus and stability.
Your brain goes into overdrive sending signals to all ends of the body to try and prevent you from falling and injuring yourself. Your glutes and quads tighten up, trunk goes into a solid spasm and arms start shaking like you are breaking ground on a new build site with a hydraulic jackhammer (Total Recall comes to mind). Now you are testing your strength.
I love to challenge the bodybuilders to suspension and bodyweight challenges because the bigger they are, the harder they fall.