Saturday, December 24, 2011

One Foot May Be Better Than Two!

If your goal is to improve overall physical fitness, athletic performance, or to simply improve the way you perform normal activities outside of the gym, focus on your functional strength. 

Functional strength is determined by the level at which your nerves, muscles, and skeletal system are able to work together to perform dynamic movement and total body stabilization.  A training program that allows you to move in all planes of motion while performing movements utilizing multiple muscle groups on stable and unstable surfaces will improve your functional strength.  A functional strength training program, unlike a traditional more linear strength training program, is more useful because it focuses on natural body movements and limits the isolation of muscles. 

Most traditional strength training programs do a lot to increase strength in the targeted muscle.  For example, strengthening your chest by performing a flat bench barbell press.  The traditional style of lifting limits the use of core muscles which can minimize your level of performance in an activity and lead to injury.  It would be wrong to advise you not to perform an isolated lift ever again but to focus more on an integrated training program that challenges all levels of force production by your neuromuscular system.  Only focusing on traditional strength training exercises can cause weakness in unused core muscles and stabilizer muscles.  This could lead to injury during dynamic movements required in activities.  Increase resistance due to the demands of traditional strength training can cause joint discomfort and injury.  Functional strength training does not require heavy weights and minimizes the amount of resistance caused to your joints.  Traditional strength training is great for the appearance of a bodybuilder and certain isolated power lifting exercises.

Functional strength training targets all muscles and allows them to adapt while moving naturally.  In order to increase the level of intensity of functional strength training you must create a more unstable surface while using more muscles to perform a movement with added resistance.  An unstable surface forces your nervous system and muscle system to engage in response to the instability.  Your body will get used to the challenges you cause it through instability and greater neuromuscular engagements.  This adaptation will result in you gaining more functional strength and overall physical fitness.    An unstable surface can be created by simply standing on one foot rather than two.  If available you can use core boards, bosu balls, resistance balls, and medicine balls for creating instability. 

Here are the advantages of a functional strength training programs:
  • Increased total body strength
  • Injury preventative
  • More athletically inclined
  • Better balance and stability
  • Improved proportion and posture
  • Higher calories burned
  • Injury rehabilitation
  • Longer life of resistance training
  • Improves motor skills and overall ability to do normal activities.

No comments:

Post a Comment