The mistake with Functional Strength Training

One of the ways I distinguish myself as a personal trainer with a personal training studio in Boonton is by saying what I do is functional training. Functional training is distinguished from bodybuilding style training in that it is intended for performance, rather than pumping up for aesthetics alone.

In my opinion, functional strength training is often misused and misunderstood. Years ago, a woman I trained hurt her back shoveling snow (before she met me that is), and hired a personal trainer to come to her home. The personal trainer had her do exercises on a stability ball while lifting light dumbbells claiming it was for functional strength. I had her do deadlifts.

The truth of the matter is functional strength, needs to have STRENGTH plain and simple. Strength training should make you strong. Controversial right? The main question I have when it comes to exercise selection is “Will this transfer to whatever sport, activity, or occupation we are training for?”

And there are many ways to build strength. It all depends on how it is programmed and progressed. Right now among my clients, I have an acrobat, 2 performing martial artists, a lacrosse/football player (right now he trains with his team), a multi-sport triathlete, an electrition, a paramedic preparing for an elite level certification, a woman in the military training to be fit for duty with the new physical standards, a ballroom dancer and a nurse among others who escape me at the moment. Each of them wants to be stronger for their chosen endeavors.

“strength” is “functional strength”

And barbell training can work for that, so can kettlebells and many other ways of creating resistance. I like to mix and match the various methods I’ve learned over 17 years of doing this. Often times what determines the course of their training is their personal preferences.

Strength training needs to make you stronger plain and simple and it needs to be taken in the context of what the goal is. For me and my other business as a modern-day performing strongman, my training needs to keep me at a level where I can perform my feats of strength, and I also like to be all-around strong and look the part (people want to see the physique of a superhero).

And when it comes to the various challenges oftentimes seen in the gym, yeah circus stuff is fun and good, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Think of it this way, who would you rather have come and help you with whatever you do, someone with a double bodyweight deadlift? Or someone who can balance on a ball?

How about instead of doing weird challenges (like squatting on top of a barbell), why not see how good you can get at your sport? If you don’t have one, why not see how strong you can get at the basics (however you define them). Can you add weight to the overhead press? How about seeing how much stronger you can get your squat? What about being able to do more chin-ups (or even your first)? You can add other stuff too, but if it’s in a program, there needs to be a reason for it.

If you need help with putting it all together to get real results, send me a text at 973 476 5328 and start your trial membership at my personal training studio in Boonton.


Eric Moss is a personal trainer in Boonton and doubles as a world-record-holding modern-day professional performing strongman, author, and motivational speaker. In the tradition of the strongmen more common during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, nonprofits, government as well as for schools and universities. His exclusive personal training studio is located on Main Street in Boonton New Jersey, is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, Montville and Parsippany New Jersey.

Matt’s Personal Training Results are incredible!

When Matt first came to my personal training studio, he came by the way of referral not even to get in shape, but for the mental health component that comes with training right and eating healthy. It’s common knowledge that you feel better after a good hard training session.

Now Matt had a significant amount of hurdles to overcome. Having turned his back from the life of a rock star and opting to be the guy behind the music instead he kept a crazy schedule with his music production business. On top of that, he has familial responsibilities and carries them all on his shoulders. So we needed to make sure his shoulders were strong.

Sometime during the holidays, he got sick with covid and while trying to recuperate he got backed up with all the projects he was working on. In order to stay afloat and make sure he didn’t lose any of his clients, he needed to pull double/triple duty trying to catch back up which meant he needed to put training on the back burner.

During that time, his health had gotten back out of control and he was feeling pretty down on himself.

By the time he was in a place where he could start training again, he was only able to dedicate himself to twice a week for training. Knowing how limited the options were, I needed to be very careful with exercise selection. There was no room for filler, and little room for error when it came to progressing him optimally. I decided to train him in a way that would accumulate as much strength as possible without burning out his central nervous system. Being fairly aggressive but never beyond his capabilities. His nutrition guidance came mostly from Donna Galarza.

Even though he was down on himself for how far he had gotten out of shape he was willing to work hard to get out of the hole he was in. He jumped headfirst into the program and even though there were obstacles…lots of obstacles, enough to stop just about anyone else but he never let anything stop him.

At the beginning of the program, he would hold his belly and talk about how bad it was. As the weeks progressed he started noticing changes.

And as more weeks ticked by and he kept burning off the belly fat and building lean strong muscle in its place he had bumped into some people from his past. One was the acupuncturist who referred him to me. She couldn’t believe how much leaner he got, but since she trains with me and knows me understood that I knew what I was doing when it came to personal training program design and that I would never recommend something to harm him, and also know how hard he works at it.

Another person also saw the changes and accused him of steroids, but nope…we do it holistically, drug-free…the right way. Hard for them to believe because his results are extremely uncommon in most other personal training studios.

And indeed his results are uncommon.

In a 6 month period training just twice a week:

His bench press 1 rep max he did for 17 reps with room for more.

His chin-ups went from 4 to 18.

His squat 1 rep max he did for 15 reps with room for more.

And last but not least, he added 100lbs to his hex bar deadlift.

And the side-by-side comparison is pretty awesome too.

6 months of training at Eric Moss Fitness #nofilter #nophotoshop

Now he’s doing better. He’s stronger, more confident in the way he looks and has a positive self-image. The transformation wasn’t just for his physique, it was for his state of mind which I personally think is the most important thing.

On a sidenote I’ve personally enjoyed every session. We speak about many things, but music in particular is something I can speak on a different level with him. If you have ever walked near my personal training studio on main street and heard a banshee scream, that was me. I have that, and I have music in my soul and he’s providing guidance in helping that come out.


Eric Moss is a personal trainer in Boonton and doubles as a world-record-holding modern-day professional performing strongman, author, and motivational speaker. In the tradition of the strongmen more common during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, nonprofits, government as well as for schools and universities. His exclusive personal training studio is located on Main Street in Boonton New Jersey, is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, Montville and Parsippany New Jersey.

re: Cosmopolitan 11 women who prove wellness isn’t ‘one size fits all’

I was sorting through my articles and realized I never published this one. Whoops!

In addition to being a professional performing strongman, I make my living as a personal trainer in Boonton. Being a fitness professional for a living I try to see what’s relevant (i.e what are people talking about) and that’s apparent when I see some of the personal trainers and nutritionists I’m Facebook friends with talking about something.

The first time I saw it, it was as a youtube thumbnail from a fitness/health ranter that I occasionally will listen to as I load the dishwasher.

11 women, 11 very different bodies
This is the cover they are all commenting on

Here is a link to the actual article.

So here is what a lot of my fellow personal trainers are saying…it’s not healthy yada yada yada. Much of what the article is saying is focus on what you can do, not the way you look.

I think what we really have is a simple miscommunication.

So for one, we need to define a couple of terms. I subscribe to the Dan John school of thought where fitness is the ability to do a task, while health is the optimal interplay of the various internal organs. They can be related, but they are not the same.

Consequently, wellness and health are related but not necessarily one and the same.

Wellness, however, is much more than physical health. Wellness is a full integration of physical, mental and spiritual well-being. It is a complex interaction that leads to quality of life.

Grand Rapids Community College

Here’s where I got that from https://www.grcc.edu/humanresources/professionaldevelopment/wellness/sevendimensionsofwellness

So what are we talking about then? Are the people in question healthy? How do you define that? There are certain biomarkers that tell you that. Things like blood pressure, cholesterol etc.

From what I can gather they aren’t necessarily talking about physical health. They are talking about mental health which is a whole other talking point. That boils down to their self-confidence, sense of self-worth etc.

Are they fit? Some of them definitely. At least one of them is an olympian.

I think the main point of the article is that you don’t have to be a specific size. The body positivity movement can be a good thing but like many good things can get turned into something harmful. Love yourself…but love yourself enough to be healthy…both physically and mentally.


Eric Moss is a personal trainer in Boonton and doubles as a world-record-holding modern-day professional performing strongman, author, and motivational speaker. In the tradition of the strongmen more common during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, nonprofits, government as well as for schools and universities. His exclusive personal training studio is located on Main Street in Boonton New Jersey, is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, Montville and Parsippany New Jersey.