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.

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