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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:25 am 
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I just read this article and loved it, and it reminded me about the often heated debate about what is "functional" or what our "function" is.

http://www.craigliebenson.com/?p=1676

It's quite heavy and probably boring to most. You don't necessarily need to understand all of it to see my point. My point is, "functional", or "function", is not sport specific, not training specific, not "machine" specific, or exercise specific, it's species specific. Human specific.

The issue is fitness fads have stolen another good term and ruined it.

"Functional" is how we MOVE. Movement IS function. We were born with it, no one sat down and taught us how to squat, we instinctively figured it out.

You shouldn't have debates like, "free weights are more functional than machines" and vice versa. It should be more like, "how do you move? If you move well, then go do whatever you want as long as it gets you closer to your goals".

So, go leg press till the cows come home, pump up the quads, as long as you can show me a good bodyweight squat. However, if you can't show me a good squat, you have anterior weight shift, and generally move like crap, then you would be better off using an exercise that will improve your movement - it would be more "functional", but if you're already "functional", then who cares?

A rant of sorts, thanks for listening/reading.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:26 pm 
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your thinking is the exact same as mine. I'm a walking ball of injuries, and I move like $h1t. Coincidence? I think not.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:21 pm 
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I've always liked Gray Cook's approach to this:
Image

Except when explaining it to my clients, I substitute "training goal" for "functional skill." The more demanding the training goal, the larger the base components must be to reach it. "functional," like "core" is a buzz word used to sell training, supplements and the latest and greatest devices. After all, doesn't the idea of functional as "swing these kettlebells until your ass is utterly kicked" sound so much more appealing than "you need to do foam extensions and sit more upright in your chair at work and take breaks every 15 minutes?" It's also a dramatically simpler concept for trainers when functional movement is framed so incorrectly; anatomy is hard, it's way easier to just make clients do bicep curls on a bosu ball than think about spines and junk. It's also easier for trainees to swallow, and it allows them to ignore taking a long hard look in the mirror and making the lifestyle changes that would really enhance their quality of life. Who doesn't want the magic bullet when it's just one more kettlebell swing away?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:16 am 
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Yeh, and thanks for posting the pic, i believe from Athletic Body in Balance? It emphasises it nicely. Don't let your "performance" out grow your capacity to move ("building fitness on top of dysfunction", as he's known for saying)

I think all the modern versions of "functional" is just a sell out of sorts, as you pointed out. It seems easier. It disgusts me how most trainer certifications will make you learn about motor neurons but simply brush over things like teaching a client how to move correctly. Or, you know, perform a DB row correctly.

I remember doing my first certification, i was paired up with this wrestler who was stuck in kyphosis. Really bad spine. We had to teach each other the deadlift but, this guy didn't have the hip mobility to get into a good starting position, so deadlifting from the floor inevitably meant "rounded back deadlift" (not even just a little rounding, but A LOT). I asked the tutor about back position, saying surely that isn't right, and he said, "whatever is comfortable for the client you are working with". Comfortable just now, maybe. Ask them again when they're 50...

Even a basic movement screen would tell you this guy shouldn't of been deadlifting, and we would know before we've loaded up a bar and "laid it on the line".

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:17 pm 
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Bobby,

Hush, adults are talking.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:43 am 
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Oscar_Actuary wrote:
Bobby,

Hush, adults are talking.


you shut up.

In defence of trainers, it does't sound to me like any of them are taught how to assess movement. They leave that to the physios. Can't really blame them then for not emphasising movement quality when they're blissfully ignorant of the concept.

I imagine it's all about insurance. If you've got someone with nagging injuries from poor movement quality, and in trying to fix that you might make it worse and get sued, chances are you'd just stick them on the leg press or recumbent bike and give them some awful "toning" exercises.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:26 am 
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You're exactly right. Trainers aren't "taught" much at all.

Also, a lot of physios don't even assess "movement". Especially the real old fashioned ones. They pretty much just rub you better and give you a relieving stretch for the affected area.

I heard a great term the other day - "non-painful dysfunction". That's what physio's stuck in the 80's don't look at, and it could very well be the cause of the "painful dysfunction". However, for any of that to hold water, we need to know what "function" is.

On the trainer thing - I do think that's essentially why we see so much crap. We can't just make people perform better when we ignore movement because they get to a certain level of fitness then just get hurt. So, we need to make up all these other ways people can get better - oh, so you can quarter squat with 45lbs, time to stand on a BOSU ball, or power plate, or use 20-20-20-20 tempo. Whatever you do, don't just get more reps, or don't just add more weight, because what you're doing is dangerous now. We need to make it more "tricky", not more "difficult", so we can distract you from the fact that you move like crap and have a poor base to build any sort of fitness on, coz if your joints hurt, our pockets hurt.

They say sarcasm is the lowest form of Wit.

The frustrating thing is, I believe movement makes it simple. You don't need a masters in biomechanics to know what good movement looks like. And, as long as trainers only deal with "non-painful dysfunction", you can achieve so much with people who started off moving like crap. You can dramatically enhance their potential to build awesomeness (lets replace "fitness" with "awesomeness"), not restrict it and distract them from it and potentially, in the long run, screw it up even more.

I was quite saddened yesterday as I found out a new trainer, after being at my gym for 6 weeks, has handed in his notice to quit. This boy had a real gift for sales without even trying, something i personally suck at. He could "make it" on that alone. However, at the weekend he told me, "I am technically an 'Elite Trainer'. That's what my certificate says. But i've been here just over a month and I honestly feel like I don't know anything about training people". I told him, "you know, recognising that fact puts you a head and shoulders above 90% of the industry". I gave him advice about learning for himself, told him I'd give him various books etc if he plans on sticking around, assured him that contrary to how he "feels", his attitude is actually great! Then I found out he's quit.

I obviously need to work on my motivational speaking.

KPj

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:41 am 
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KPj wrote:
... I told him, "you know, recognising that fact puts you a head and shoulders above 90% of the industry". ... Then I found out he's quit.

I obviously need to work on my motivational speaking.

KPj


Sometimes learning that your industry sucks is demotivating. For others it's a opportunity for personal growth. Don't blame yourself for that advise.

Bobby, if you stick in your lane as a personal trainner, you shouldn't have to worry about causing more damage. Once there is pain involved, it's a medical matter and you need to refer to experts. If there's no pain, improving the movement before loading up the weight just makes sense. The worst case is you waste some time. That's a small risk compared to traditional methods.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:54 am 
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stuward wrote:
a personal trainner, you shouldn't have to worry about causing more damage. Once there is pain involved, it's a medical matter and you need to refer to experts. If there's no pain, improving the movement before loading up the weight just makes sense. The worst case is you waste some time. That's a small risk compared to traditional methods.


I completely agree, but imagine you're a trainer and you have a client with pain when squatting. Sure, you could refer them to a physio, but that would mean no sessions with you for a while, so you'll not be getting paid.

So instead, you stick them on a leg press and laugh maniacally as you count your money.

I have no proof that this ever happens but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it did.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:52 am 
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I don't disagree with you and I'm sure that lots of trainers put their short term monetary gains over their client's long term health, but in the long term, you would both be better off if you correct the pain first. That doesn't mean you can't work on other aspects at the same time.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:52 am 
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I'm actually a little guilty of it myself. My girlfriend asked me to show her the weight training basics, I took one look at her terrible attempt at a squat and just told her to do lunges.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:18 pm 
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as a home gamer, who can/has video taped, how good does the movement need to be before we load more weight?
I know my form is not perfect. I can do any over head squats for example.

In more general terms, how perfect do you need to be on various lifts before we give the go ahead to add more resistance?

cheers.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:31 pm 
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Oscar_Actuary wrote:
as a home gamer, who can/has video taped, how good does the movement need to be before we load more weight?
I know my form is not perfect. I can do any over head squats for example.

In more general terms, how perfect do you need to be on various lifts before we give the go ahead to add more resistance?

cheers.


that's a really good question. I know that I won't ever squat again until I've got the flexibility to hit the bottom position perfectly but most folks can probably get away with being a bit looser with form.

I mean, it's not like you ever see anyone squatting with perfect form, there must be a cut-off where form is good enough just to get stuck in. I don't know what it is though.

I seem to remember thinking your squat form was alright Oscar


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:51 am 
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On form/when do we add load/when do we add more load...

That is a good question, and very open. As a trainer you can pretty much make up your own mind, as long as it works i.e. you're not getting clients injured whilst, ideally, improving their movement.

There's nothing worse as a trainer to give someone an exercise that causes pain. I used to have my own kind of dumbed down screen that I came up with during my own experience, mostly my own training experience. For example, I always knew from day one as a trainer that a horrible "wall slide" was going to make "pressing" a difficult option. If you take someone who butchers the wall slide, it's very likely you'll teach them to OH press and they'll get instant discomfort. If not instantly, then quite soon.

I use Gray Cooks screening methods. What I like most about it is you score the movements (something I wasn't doing when I seen you, Bob). So with a score, you now make movement measurable, if it's measurable, it's much simpler to direct progress, not to mention, re-test to monitor progress. It also allows you to gather up more meaningful data, and essentially do your own research.

Basically, a "3" in a movement is perfect. A "2" means you can do it but, there's a little compensation, for example, you can hit depth in OH squat but your hands may fall forward. A "1" means you couldn't complete the movement at all i.e. in the OH squat, you couldn't get your hips below the knees. Any pain means "0" (with the strong recommendation to see a physio).

You don't need a perfect score to go lift. In fact, Gray has said, "if you score all 2's, then go train".

There's a whole method behind addressing it. For example, side to side discrepancies get prioritised. So, if you have a 1 in the OH squat, but your Active Straight Leg Raise is a 2 on one side and a 1 on the other, then you attack the straight leg raise first. You also generally prioritise the straight leg raise and shoulder mobility first, if all else is equal, but "where to begin" is often debated, really. As long as you pick one, own it, re test it, and see it improved. The general consensus is to go after straight leg raise and shoulder mobility (getting mobility), then Rotational stability and trunk stability push up (getting stability), then you get on your feet and go after your lunge, step, and squat. So you pick one at a time and work away at it. A retest will confirm (or deny) progress.

Scores on tests also lets you know what you should or should not do in the weight room. For example a discrepancy on straight leg raise would make deadlifting a problem. You want to clean that up before you go deadlift. If you're getting "1s" on the Step and Lunge, then loading up single leg stuff is going to be a problem. Best leaving the problematic exercises out of the program until you clean up the movement dysfunction.

It makes life so much easier as a trainer. You don't get that awkward, "ok, lets deadlift, here's how you do it", and a can of worms proceeds to open. Screening tells you what to leave out before you even hit the free weights area, so you don't even mention deadlifting (until it's an option) and instead you go on about what they CAN do and how this will help them. If someone I train shouldn't OH press, I don't even talk about it unless they specifically ask, I just make the necessary modifications to their program, focus on what they are able to do right now, and when things clean up and it becomes an option, it just gets added in.

The "modifications" you make based on the outcome of the screen pretty much amount to removing some exercises and adding others in, tweaking the warm up to prioritise the pattern you are addressing, and a couple of "staple" movement you try and get the client to do as "homework". Most of the time, if you get it right you should see improvement in weeks if not before. Client compliance counts here, though. Generally to improve a movement pattern you really need to work on a corrective for it every day.

KPj

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:24 am 
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On adding load...

Again, depends on the trainer. I have my own principles with it. Basically, when it comes to form, I think there's a little grey area between "safe" and "perfect". A movement can be safe but not perfect, in other words. An example would be a deadlift where the hips shoot up first, maybe even the UPPER back rounds a little, but the lower back remains in the it's neutral arch. Honestly, I don't see anything wrong with that, it's not perfect but, it's not dangerous. This is where I would NOT add load, this is where I would stop. In fact, I generally would stop before this point but this is as "bad" as it gets. Sometimes it's tough to call. I aim for perfect and taking it to a "perfect grind" - form doesn't change but the weight moves sloooowwwww. I'll try and stop here, any heavier and your form will change, in other words you will stray further from "perfect" and closer to "safe". You typically have a less-than-perfect-but-still-safe rep in you after the "perfect grind". Then, any heavier and it will just be a total mess. Going back to the deadlift, that's where you'll see lumbar flexion, and you really want to avoid that.

So, try and keep it perfect, but if you're trying to improve strength, try and take to a weight difficult enough that requires you to get your game-face on and grind through it. Sometimes you'll stray from perfect but it should still be safe if you're sensible. Obviously, i'm not talking about other methods such as speed work here.

With a squat, you can have the same issue, hips will move up first or faster, weight may fall forward, but your knees are tracking ok and your back is flat. No big deal, it'll happen if you're pushing it. However, don't let your knee cave in and don't let your back round - there's actually no reason other than ego to let this happen. Minor compensation occurs well before disaster. Stop at minor compensation -if you even get that far- and you'll avoid disaster. Strive to keep it perfect.

I get clients in to the mindset of fighting form vs fighting weight. Don't think about fighting 100KG, think about fighting to maintain form. The weight is just a tool to try and push you out of form, and your job is to fight it. If another rep, or another 10KG is going to push you out of form, then don't do it.

You want to strive for perfect form. On the big movements, think "one rep shy of failure" and also think "technical failure" vs "total failure". If you think the next rep "might" result in failure, just don't do it. Pick your battles wisely.

Strength training really is a marathon and not a sprint. If you turn it into a sprint you'll burn out and get injured. The best thing you can get out of a strength training session is a PB that leaves plates on the floor. For example you hit a 10KG PB on deadlift and feel like you have another 10KG in you. Leave it there. Be happy with the PB you got and bank that other 10KG you think you have. If you go for it you'll probably end up with an ugly rep at best. If you bank it, it's like an investment, the 10KG you left in the floor will be 20KG down the line.

Take this from someone who has regressed by ~20KG in squat and deadlift in the last 18 months.

Also (i'm just rambling all the things i say to clients about form here), reps build form, bad reps build bad form. An "ugly" rep doesn't help you one bit, it just strokes the ego. They're only allowed on test days or competitions which are effectively a "battle of egos" (nothing wrong with that, but accept the risk).

I can also say from experience that the more you practice perfect form the more you "cement" it (reps build form!). Have you ever noticed an advanced PL missing a deadlift, squat, or bench? Normally, his body doesn't change, form doesn't change, the bar just stops moving. Any deviation is very subtle. Then get a beginner or intermediate work up to failure - not recommended but you see it all the time. It's horrible, the body morphs into something completely different from the intended lift. Again, bad reps build bad form. Fight form, not weight, and honestly, the weight will go up, just be patient.

"Strength training is a skill" - Approaching technique like this is really the "skill" component of strength training. There's a lot going on when grinding out a big lift!

In that respect, I tell clients they need to EARN an increase in weight. If 100KG is safe but not perfect, they know they need to clean it up and own it before they get a shot at 110KG.

I've rambled on far too much but it's a topic close to my heart :cheers:

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