What is Functional Training?

It’s been a while since I have last written Life has taken control but it is starting to calm down a little bit.  What comes to mind when you hear the term Functional Training.  Most people will think about balancing on Bosu balls or balance boards while performing exercises to force people to adjust to every shifting environment. You also may think of Crossfit in which it is randomized workouts so that everyday is something different so that you will be prepared for anything that you may come across in your life.  I am still young in my career to determine say whether one is better than the other. My interpretation of Functional Training is looking at Human Anatomy and develop a program to help  those muscle perform there function better. That can include Strength training, power training,  flexibility and mobility work.

Strength Training
Strength is very important  if muscles are not strong enough to resist gravity I can bet you will have a hard time in life. If your legs can’t support your own body weight your will have a difficult time in life. Think about all that you do with your legs. If you can squat then it will be very difficult to get in and out of cars, chairs, off the ground. Sometime there are imbalances between muscle group. An example is an imbalance between chest to upper back strength. Most people are able to bench press a lot more than they can pull.  When you have a great imbalance between muscle groups you are more susceptible to injury.  Strength training is very important to make sure your body is strong enough to propel itself and to resist gravity. When muscles are strong you will decrease the chance of injury.


Power Training
Power Training is very important in everybody. As you age strength will decrease. Whats even worse a person’s ability to produce power decrease more than their strength.  What is an everyday power exercise that everyone does daily? It is very simple getting out of a chair.  Sit in your chair and try to get out of it slowly without using your arms to help you up. I bet that it was impossible( if you were able to do it then either your cheated or you’re a beast and you must post a video of you doing it).  A power movement can be anything from Olympic lifts, Box Jumps, Bounds, Kettle bell swings, skipping, Anything that forces your body to move quickly. If you perform a power exercise daily you will feel a lot better.  Power is defined by Force x Distance / Time  or Work/Time. It is creating a force in the shortest amount of time possible.

Flexibility and Mobility
Picture yourself as stiff as you have ever been. I can bet you felt awful.  Now think that some people bodies are like that all the time. If you take those people and you stretch and work on their joint mobility(ankles, hips, and thoracic spine) They will have a new lease on life.  Make joints that are supposed to be mobile move  and that will allow the other joints to perform their jobs better.  Also working on connective tissue length as will also help with flexibility and mobility of those joints.  Foam Rolling  and Mobility exercises to help increase Joint range of motion are vital.  A rule of thumb for how many decades you are alive that’s how many days of mobility  work you need a week.

Functional training does not have to be some super creative outlandish exercises just try to make people strong enough to resist gravity, develop power, and have as much range of motion as possible in their joints. It is very simple. Do those things and you will change people lives.

Random Thoughts and good reads

In the last couple of weeks I have been reading and working  pretty hard so I haven’t had time to write but I have had time to read bring in new material In the last couple of weeks I have had plenty of thoughts I will lay down some of my thoughts down.

Adipure Trainers
I bought a pair of Adipure Trainer Shoes in the middle of March. Now that I have some wear and tear on those bad boys I think it is appropriate to give my review of the shoe I will go more in depth about them in a later post. When I first got the Adipure. I had some familiarity with minimalist shoes( Nike free).  Unfortunately it is very rare that they make shoes my size( size 16) I was able to fit in to a size 15 without a problem. The shoes have a flexible fabric and they stretch some to accommodate everyone foot.  That being said the sizes are not done the same way as Vibrams where it is European sizes and they measured by the longest toe.  Adidas went with traditional shoes size so if you have weird shaped feet be warned they may not feet well. I personally had a problem with my last pinkie toe getting rubbed on the inside between the toes. So the first week of wearing those shoes was painful until the skin calloused over. After I allowed my feet to heal Everything seemed to fall in place. The  fabric has stretched out my arch started to get  stronger and I was able to push myself harder in my workouts. It is a great show but as a big person I would weary about working out in these day after day. Make sure you carry another pair of shoes so you can switch when you can.

Fat Head Documentary
Now the if you have NetFlix I high recommend this documentary it is very informational on nutrition and how the guidelines need to be change in the United States. Tom Naughton the creator of this movie was a stand up comedian and now computer programmer and he does a lot of individual research on health and nutrition. Also he decides that the Super Size Me experiment was false and Morgan Spurlock falsified his food diary. I have seen the movie about three times and if you don’t have Netflix here is a link of the movie on youtube.

Quote from Gary Taubes book Why we Get Fat
In this book he  had one statement that stuck with my mind  Overeating does make you Fat but Being Fat( or making fat) makes you overeat. It was a very simple statement that makes a lot of sense if you sit and think about it.  Lets break it down I have seen people overeat a lot and not gain weight and on the other end of that spectrum I have seen people eat little( for their size)  and are still pretty big.  Let’s look at it like this the average american male eats roughly 2000 calories a day.  If his body decides to make fat. The fat cells will take a portion of his food every time he eats. So now the body is only getting 1500 calories a day. So now the body is in a deficit so now what?  The body sends a signal to the brain telling you that it is still hungry and to go get something to eat.   So now you go eat a little more. The fat cells take there portion of the food and you still want to get one more bit just to be sure you got your daily caloric intake.

Nutrition Rant

I want to thank the United States Education for this.  A  Calorie is a Calorie that is plain and simple.  Unfortunately the laws Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed which I will not argue because I believe that law stands true.  Unfortunately anyone who understands that law also believes that they are a nutritionist. If you believe that a calorie from a slice of cheese cake is the same as a calorie from a filet of grilled salmon. You may want to turn in your highschool diploma and start over again. If you believe that nutrition is as simple as balancing your calories. Then you honestly don’t know what is going on inside your body.  For example a double cheese burger from McDonald has 490 Kcal. In order for me 6’5” 250lbs person to burn that burger off I would have to run at a 7 mph pace for 25 minutes.  Not to mention if I ate a medium fries and a soda to drink( equals a whopping 960 calories)  I would have to run for 44 mins at the same pace.  That’s not including breakfast, or dinner.  A lot of people use calorie counters to restrict the amount of food they eat. If you keep restricting your food intake eventually your metabolism will slow down and your will stop losing weight and when you quit counting calories you will gain the weight back plus more.  Remember a Calorie is not a Calorie Think before you eat.

My top 5 Core exercises

To add to my list of favorite exercises I will go ahead and name my Top 5 favorite exercise for the “Core” All the exercise may incorporate the entire body which is fine because you can’t move your body without the core being involved one way or another. Most of these exercises I still use because they will help keep me strong and flexible for the rest of time.

5). Single leg sit-up
The single leg sit-up is a regression to the very popular Turkish get-up This is a great exercise that can hit your Core and both sides can be worked evenly. It is an exercise that can easily be loaded and when loaded help turn the exercise into a great shoulder stability exercise as well. It is a fantastic exercise that needs little set up just get in the traditional Sit up position on the floor. Extend one leg straight and perform sit ups. Did I mention that the 1 leg sit-up is also safer on your lower back? With one leg extended it causes people not to round the lower back which take a lot of shearing force off of the disk which protects your spine.

4).Suitcase Carries

Suitcase carries is the Farmer walks city slicker cousin. Instead of walking with two weights just grab one weight. Now the goal is to walk in a straight line( at least 20 yards) and keep your shoulder square and try not to lean.  Keeping yourself up right will be more than enough to wake up those obliques.  Not to mention there is a dynamic implementation when you walk. If you ever wanted to learn how to brace your core try a farmer walk. It is an exercise that teaches you how to perform it correctly while performing the exercise.

3). Turkish Get-up

I mention the single leg sit-up as the regression for the Turkish get-up. The Turkish get-up is not an exercise your want to play around with.  This is exercise should honestly come with an instruction manual. This exercise will remind you how awful it can be to get up off the ground.  But doing this exercise will show you your weaknesses and help strengthen them at the same time.  If you wrestle, judo, ju-jitsu, or any other martial arts this is the exercise for you. I think all contact sports need to incorporate a Turkish get-up.  Fantastic exercise give a shot.
2). Med ball Tosses( all directions) 
Get exercise for thrower, golfers, fighters,  and just about all sports.  This exercise can also be used to work on power in athletes. There are so many variations but it teaches you how to generate power from your hips up through the mid section and out through your arms.  It keeps emphasizing that kinetic chain. How to transfer energy created from your legs and move it through your abdomen to your arms. If your core is weak you will lose a lot of power throughout the movement. I prefer if you can throw the ball against. So I can throw the ball without worrying about injuring another person.

1). Planks (Front, Side, and all other variations)

Planks are a simple exercise to train your abdominal, hips, and shoulders. Just get in a push up position on your elbows. Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe. Hold that position like your life depends on it. Very good exercise to work your core correctly which to make a stable platform in which you can move your limbs from. Very simple with lots of variations. This is a must include exercise. If you’re able to hold for at least a minute you are doing big things. If you can’t then… get to work.

When its gone

I read a quote the other day that got me thinking ” People don’t start worrying about their Health until they lose it” Those words for some reason speak volumes to me.  It goes along those same quote you don’t realize how important something is until its gone.  I can say that I have been just like everyone else in this world. All my friends see me as the health nut. I eat healthy I work out everyday I try to do things that will help make me healthier, or keep my body going smoothly. Before I was known as the health nut that I am today I was just like everyone else. Granted I played basketball and kept myself very active with a lot of sports and activities but I never was into the whole health kick until Things begin to change. 

I was in my junior year in  college and I was doing OK school wasn’t really a stellar student just did enough to get by with my classes I would study the material and do the minimum to pass the test. My main concentration was on basketball. That summer I had played on the Panama National Team and had played in some games and contributed a little bit to the team. When I got back to school I thought I was top dog and that I was going to have a breakout season. I was in the best shape of my college career and everything was looking good. Then 2 game into the season I strained my groin during warms ups. That ended up putting me out of action for a couple of games. Then I came back and played a game against Richmond did sub par  probably because I was out of shape.  Then the week after I landed on a teammates foot and messed up my knee. Of course being the hard-headed knuckle head that I am I did not tell anyone. So I continued to play on a hurt knee. By the time game comes around My knee is swollen and the pain is unbearable.  Come to find out I had torn my meniscus. The training staff asked me to stay off it for about two to three weeks which I did. On the reassessment it had not gotten any better.  So I had surgery scheduled to help remove the damaged cartilage.  Just like that my season was over. My dream breakout season gone.  So started back at square one with rehab and getting back so that I could play without pain.  I will fast forward a bit and say that was the most depressing time of my life.  You go from being top dog to bottom rung in a couple of months.  Anyway well Senior year comes and I thought that it would be my redemption year. The last senior push well long story short I ended up  dislocating my shoulder and hairline fracture in my foot. I had already used my red shirt year with the meniscus tear so basically it was another wasted year. For someone who never had problems before in their life(other than asthma) I was wondering why I was constantly getting hurt. Well I graduated from William and Mary and decided to transfer to Augusta State University. I had one more year of eligibility and decided to play my final year there and get started on my Graduate studies.

Now I was in a new environment with new coaches, new teammates. I was enjoying myself my coach when I first got there looked at me and was like I need you to lose at least twenty pounds. Of course I looked at him crazy he said that I was too heavy to play ball and that I needed to lose weight. He sent me to Dr. Wish the head of the Kinesiology department and Registered Dietitian. She gave me a meal plan that I needed to follow and that I needed to start taking care of my body more.  At first I was bummed out but, these were the rules that were set in at this place. I ended up losing the weight and a little more(2lbs more) I felt great nothing hurt no knees, ankles, shoulders, or hips. I started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables I started to become a lot more health conscious.  I had the best season of my college career. I was voted First team all conference. My team did very well broke school records for most wins in a single season. My life had turned around dramatically.  When I started to eat and take care of my body I felt better, I performed better. It was one less stress that I had to worry about. For two years I was so worried about whether my body was going to hold that day or not. Now it was gone. Now I have finished my masters and I have chosen to help people regain their health.  I had to suffer for more than two years to realize that if you take care of yourself good things will happen. If you wait until something traumatic happens then it is already too late.   People don’t develop diabetes or hypertension over night. It is a process that has been building up for a long time then eventually it reaches a breaking point.

If you can make changes in your life to will make you healthier why hesitate.  There is a lot of information on the internet about proper nutrition( and bad nutrition) and if

Tough Mudder 2012
ToughMudder 2012

you can’t distinguish between the good and bad go see someone who knows. Talk ask questions. Get some exercise regularly. Make smart choices in life you only have one body and you it should be in your best interest to keep it running properly.  A lot of people take their health for granted and end up biting the bullet later in life.

Top 5 Favorite Upperbody exercises

These are my top 5 upper body exercises. In my experience lifting I have done several different exercises and out of all of them these exercises come to my mind first. Now I did include some back exercises but that is fine because it’s my list.

5) 1-arm Dumbbell Bench Press
This exercise is fairly new to my inventory of exercises but I love it no less. Grab a dumbbell( just one dumbbell) grab a bench and push away with one arm. This is a great horizontal pushing exercise that will force you to embrace your abdominal and force you to make a solid platform so that you can push the weight up. If you don’t believe me then  give it a try yourself( you may want to drop the weight some)

4) Pull ups/ Chin ups 
I think this exercises is one of the best exercise you can perform in the gym. It is a great back and lats and even bicep exercise I you want to help develop you back strength then you should try to incorporate pull-ups and chin ups into your program. I can tell you that I am terrible at pull-ups but I try to do a set every time I go to the gym because I know it will make me better.

3) Inverted Rows 
I did not start perform rows until I got to college but none the less it is a fantastic back exercise to work your traps and posterior deltoid   If you can’t do pull ups/chin ups this is a great exercise to help strengthen your back. It is a very simple set up have a bar rack  just outside your arm reach while laying on the floor. Grab bar  and pull your chest to the bar. It’s a reverse push-up if you think about it.

2). Standing/Kneeling Cable bench press
A great exercise that I personally think will translate better to life situations. Most of the time we are pushing an object standing up. Your legs and torso will have to create a stable platform from which you are able push-off from with your upper body.  Not every one has a fancy cable machine but if you have resistance bands that will be just as good.  Fantastic exercise usually causes me to cramp(charlie horse whatever you call it) due to how hard I have to brace. Less than half you weight is a good starting point for this exercise.  You can do this exercise standing, Tall kneeling(both knees) or 1/2 kneeling.  I recommend 1 arm at a time.

1) Standing Military Press
If you want to get strong then do Standing Military press.  Don’t do Military presses sitting down because they basically become a high incline bench press when you’re fatigued. Do them standing and you feel a huge difference on how much is involved to push weight above your head.  This is my favorite exercise to do It will strengthen your shoulders, upper chest, triceps, Traps abdominal, just about everything. They are a pain in the butt. If you are having problem with benching then start doing Military presses and that should help you improve your bench dramatically.
Honorable mentions
Curl to shoulder press
Barbell Bent over rows
Dumbbell Bent over rows
3-ways shoulder raises
Push ups

My Favorite Lower Body Exercises

I have been exercising for a majority of my life and throughout my time in gym I have been partial  to a few exercises. When I see those exercises on my program I get excited like a young teenage girl about to see Hunger games.  So in the Post I want to show My 5 favorite Lower body exercise I recommend given them a try if you haven’t already.

5. Back Squat/Front Squats
 I truly believe that this exercise will withstand the test of time. This is the basic exercise to build strength in your lower limbs.  I usually only go to 90 degrees( upper thigh parallel to floor) but I have at one period of time squat ATG(Ass to Grass).  There is a big myth that squats are bad for your knees but I haven’t had any problem with knees. Having a strong lower body will greatly improve the quality of your life.  I was first introduced to back squats in the 8th grade. I had a very good strength coach who taught me great technique and it was easy for me to do.  If you don’t squat you should think about incorporating them into your program.

4. Trap Bar Deadlift
The Trap Bar Deadlift is a variation of the traditional dead lift which is a great exercise to develop the Posterior chain of the body( Hamstring, Glutes Back extensors). The hex bar is move of a manly hula hoop  that you can add weight to. The trap bar dead lift is supposed to be more back  friend rather than traditional dead lifts. Because the back level is shorter than traditional deadlift. Professionals are now starting to consider the Trap Bar Dead lift and hybrid exercise due to the amount of knee flexion compared to traditional deadlifts.  Great exercise I completely recommend it.

3. Walking Lunges
I have always hated walking Lunges because I would almost without fail be very sore the next day.  It is a very dynamic exercise That requires power, stability, strength. If you want a great lower body exercise walking lunges. Sometimes I still have flash back from the first time I perform walking lunges properly. I couldn’t sit right for a week.

2. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats
RFESS  also known as the Bulgarian(Romanian whatever country) split squats.  I used to perform this exercise as a supplement exercise for my legs. Up until early 2011  I was learned that you can also perform this exercise pretty heavy not to mention there is a huge stability component of this exercise. I found that you can work you legs just as hard if not harder than the back squats without putting too much weight on your back. The limiting factor in the back squat is not your legs. It is your back you’re only able to squat as much weight as your back will allow.   But by going to single leg you can load up more weight on your body one leg at a time.  When I first started performing RFESS I was working with  135 lbs on my back and honestly it was kicking my butt. Now I can do 205 lbs comfortably and I noticed that my legs feel stronger than they have in years.

1. Pistol Squats 

I take pride in my leg strength it was something that I was naturally good at and I worked hard at trying to improve. In college I was able to squat 565lbs. I was a beast but when we got a new strength coach he felt my squat was strong enough in the bilateral since but he wanted see how strong we were unilaterally. So he started incorporating pistol squats and Single leg Dead lifts The first day I tried to do a pistol squat I could not go anywhere near parallel. It was unbelievable. How can a person with a 500 lbs squat barely perform an average pistol squat. It made me angry but at the same time open up my eyes as to how strength is relative to your goals. I see power lifters throwing up huge numbers. I see body weight people able to perform muscles ups and Full ATG Pistol squats it is truly amazing to how the body can adapt to stimulus.

Honorable mentions
Single leg Straight leg Deadlifts
Stability ball Leg Curls
Hip Thrusters
Traditional Dead lifts.

Goal setting

Tips for training
1. Write down your goals
If you don’t right down your goal they are still dreams and wishes. Put it on paper and develop a plan to reach that goal. If you don’t have any direction then you don’t have a plan

2. Make sure your goals are specific and obtainable.
Goals like taking over the world or get down to 1% body fat  are not obtainable goals( well maybe taking over the world). A good example is lose 20lbs in 10 weeks. Is a good goal. It gives your a specific goal and a timeline to accomplish the goal.

4. One Goal at a time
I have a lot of clients that have list of  goals and they try to achieve all of them at once and end up failing. Order your goals by priority and then go down the list. If your goal is fat loss go for Fat loss. If you want to build strength then build strength. Remember a jack of all trades is a master of none.

3. Schedule in assessments
Put in reassessments into your program. This will be crucial to make sure that the program is putting you on pace to reach your goal.   Reevaluating your program can help you find flaws that could potentially keep your from getting to where you want to be.

4. Have fun 
Give your program some flexibility( not a lot though) because life will get in the way. Which you can’t plan for so stick to your plan but be able to make adjustments when “life” come at you.


Forward Lunge vs Reverse Lunge

Now this is a little issue that has been on my mind for about the last week or so. The forward lunge vs the Reverse lunge. Two exercises that look very similar on the surface but target different muscles in the legs. Now if you were to tell someone  they will look at you like you’re crazy. IT is the same motion just one stepping forward the other stepping backwards.  But lets look at in-depth

Forward Lunge
 The Forward lunge from a standing position you want to step forward which will cause center of gravity to go forward as well when your front foot hits the ground your glutes, Hamstring, and quadriceps will contract eccentrically to slow your momentum hip stabilizers will fire to keep the knee in line.  As you descend down you will get more glutes and hamstring activation especially if you are pushing through your arch to heel on your front foot. Towards the bottom end of the movement you will get more glutes  and hamstring activation. On the concentric portion of the movement most of the work is through quadriceps. The last bit of the movement is knee extension. Think about when you’re doing dynamic lunges(alternating lunges) you have to kick a little with your front leg to get you back to the standing position. What major muscles are responsible for knee extension? The answer is quadriceps.  Many people usually don’t go the full range of motion in the Lunge and that is why they really feel the burn in the quads because they stay in the range were quad activation in greater. Even in the picture I believe the woman can go even further down and have her back knee touch the ground.  Front Lunges will target your quads better than Reverse lunges.

Reverse Lunges
 Lets take a look at the Reverse Lunge it start the same way as the Front long instead of stepping forward you take a step backwards.  First thing you notice is that you body starts to move in reverse. Second thing you notice is that it is a slightly slower movement. Let think about it for a second with the forward lunge you are shifting the weight from the back leg to the front. In the reverse lunge the weight doesn’t shift in the beginning instead the support leg( the leg that did not step back) has to control your body weight and lower you through the motion. As you lower yourself though the motion your glutes and hamstrings are engage immediately  to help lower yourself down.  You lower until your knee touches the ground then you stand back up. The up motion is completely different from the front lunge  The front lunge ended up being a pushing motion. The reverse lunge on the way back up is a pulling motion through the hip.  You are pulling yourself forward, it basically the same motion when your running and walk.  Hip extension is controlled by the glutes and Hamstrings.  Some people will argue that you push-off the back the back leg to get forward. Yes there is some help with a push to help get your momentum forward but I will argue that your hips are more involved in a reverse lunge than the front lunge. Why do you think women who want to tone they hips and buttocks do reverse lunges over front lunges.  IF you still don’t believe me grab some dumbbells and do a couple of sets of reverse lunges and tell me what hurts 2 days later. I bet it will be your glutes.


If you’re trying to make a decision between forward and reverse lunges it will depend on what muscles(movements) you’re trying to target.  If you’re going for a knee dominate  quadriceps movement go with the Forward lunge. If you are looking more Posterior chain movement then I suggest the Reverse lunge  it will hit your hamstring and glutes more.

Random thought about Health and Fitness

Random thoughts this is what I’ve been thinking about in the last week or so.

My girlfriend has posed a question last week that got me thinking. She asked why there isn’t any uniform or standard that all fitness and health professionals agree upon. For example a doctor will tell a person they need to go for a walk occasionally. While a fitness professional will say that walking will do little to nothing to improve your health. Why is that? Couldn’t all the professionals come together and agree upon a standard that all people follow. I was thinking that would be way too difficult because the definition for fitness or being healthy is subjective.  There are many people who believe that being able to run  10+ plus miles as being in shape. Others believe that being able lift double your body weight in different exercises is a sign of being in shape. I personally consider being in shape doing being able to perform in my sport without problem. With so many definitions of Fitness it is hard to develop a standard without conflicts with another group.  If I had a choice between cardiovascular exercises and resistance exercises. I would choose resistance exercises. Others would choose cardiovascular exercise. Is there anything wrong with either choose? I don’t think so people will argue. I think if you are in good health if you’re able to perform daily activities without problem.
Another problem is that there are several different certifications that you can find throughout the world each certifications have different recommendations, and standards of practice.   The major Personal trainer certifications are ACE, NASM, ACSM, NSCA, NCSF, NFPT, NESTA, and IFPA.  8 different certifications that are recognized in the United States alone what about the international companies. Each of the companies have different standard and practices. Not to mention there are several other major certifications that do not fall into those 8 groups as well. Not to mention people go to universities to study Exercise science,  and Kinesiology. It is honestly pretty ridiculous because for all these groups to come together to come up with a standard is most likely not happening.