Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Functional Fitness?

Going through my morning internet reads and I came across this article on BREAKING MUSCLE one of the fitness blogs I like to read.  A great site to bookmark or follow as they have some good articles from time to time and just a good general source of information.  I may not agree on some of their articles but overall it is a good read.

So the author writes about a pretty popular term in the last few years. FUNCTIONAL FITNESS.  I am guilty of using this term myself A LOT. When people have asked me "oh you lost some weight", "how are you doing it?" "Are you in the gym?" "Are you trying to lost more weight?"  My answer is/was the same, "I am trying to attain functional fitness and general health"  What does that even mean?  Losing weight is a by product of being more "functional."

I am lucky to be working with a pretty well rounded coach. One that actually "knows" me. It has taken some time but over the last 3 going on 4 years this guy can predict what I can do and what I cannot do and although we butt heads ALOT I know he has my best interest and knows what goals are good for me and how to attain them.  Our disagree on how FAST I need to attain these goals but once in a long while somethings click and I actually do somethings right and even surprise him!  Of course this changes over time, it adjusts and changes.  But that is the best part. I get to do many different things along the lines of this article.

I am by no means an "athlete" in any sense of the word. I am probably not even "healthy."  But...if you take the ME from 2010 and prior and compare to me now?  DIFFERENT PERSON. I am an OLD man..all my friends that read this know just how old.  I swear I am in BETTER SHAPE now at this age then I was at 21. I am in better shape now than 2 years ago. I am stronger, faster and smarter than before.  So this article spoke to me. In the last 3 years of working out and being strategic on what my training is I can say 100% I am more FUNCTIONAL.

Simple tasks..people take for granted. I will just bullet a few for you...


  • carrying bags around an airport or traveling. I have traveled to Asia solo and with my family. I just recently came back from a week long trip to Mexico with my girlfriend.  Anyone that has traveled knows...it sucks to carry and lug around your bags. Not me...all good all day.
    • Mexico trip...I visited the ancient city of PALENQUE where I climbed the pyramids. 100 rocky slippery steps. BOOM...done easy. Carrying my DSLR camera.
  • Groceries. How many people get 3-4 bags of groceries and need 2 trips to bring it in? Not me.
  • Kayak (a river in Hawaii and the Ocean in Santa Barbara - I have done it twice...easy peasy.
  • Hiking - I have bad feet..I really do.  But there was a time 100ft walk would have me out of breath.
  • Moving heavy things - ever move yourself? Help a friend move? Yeah next to having a truck/u-haul its good to be able to lift things.
    • I have told this story many times. I have a neighbor, this happened maybe 1-2 years ago. I just came back from a workout. We see each other in the garage. He and his wife just came back from Home Depot or Lowes not sure. They just bought a new toilet. Still in box. It was in the trunk of their car and they could not get it out. So being the nice guy I walk over offer my help. Hubby and I take the toilet out. I was ready to leave and figured they need more help. So I say do you need me to help you? Hubby and I each take a side and proceed to move this toilet across the garage to the stairs to our condos. 20 ft.  He had to rest, he had to put it down. We got up 3 stairs and he had to rest again. At this point, I was like "umm...just let me grab it." Not to show off or be a jerk, but it was just easier to take this to his door then doing it this way.  The box said 70lbs. 2 person diagram and where to hold the box. I just picked it up and took it to his door. FUNCTIONAL FITNESS!
  • I can carry rice.  All my Asian peeps know...a big 25lb bag of rice can be hard. I can easily carry 2, one on each shoulder and take it wherever. Special bonus for 5 gallon jugs of water.

Now I am not writing this to show off or say how great I am.  Again, I am the WEAKEST/SLOWEST in my little workout community.  But in the big picture...I am very proud of myself and know that my training does pay off in REAL LIFE situations.  Can I run a mile in under 10 mins? Probably not. Can I snatch 225lbs YET?  No...but if you someone to pick up a bag of rice or sand or a toilet for you at least I know I can!

The article is below...check it out!  


http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/what-is-your-functional-fitness-for


Functional fitness is one of the biggest phrases right now in the fitness industry. It is defined differently by kettlebell users, CrossFit coaches, FMS trainers, and many other fitness professionals. I believe functional fitness comes down to two specific concepts, adaptability and putting your fitness into practice in a real application. It’s great to be gym fit, to be able to perform pull-ups, endless sit-ups, and deadlift 400 pounds. But what can you actually do with this fitness? Are you able to pick up a couch, run to catch a bus, climb on top of something, explore nature, or compete in a trail race? Better yet, can you drag a 100lb deer out of the wood for two miles over varied terrain?

functional fitness, movnat, jeff kuhland, outdoor fitness, learning new skillsIt is easy to become comfortable in the indoor setting where it is predictable and safe. Every time you arrive at the gym your front desk staff will be the same, the bench will be in the same spot, and you know of what you are capable. Even if you train hard it tends to fall into a rut and doesn’t often push the envelope. When is the last time you were nervous before a workout, not sure if you were going to be able to complete it, or experienced the fear of learning a new skill? Learning is a skill itself. The more you learn physically or mentally the better you become at the act of learning. So, your next learning challenge is to take your fitness and apply it in some practical sense.

Transferability of fitness from the gym to the real world isn’t as easy as we would like to think. Pull-ups will strengthen your back, lats, and biceps. However, the strength doesn’t translate directly to climbing on top of a tree branch, doing a muscle up, or climbing rocks. The real world doesn’t occur in a single plane of motion. Rather, it is dynamic and ever changing. Picking up children, groceries, or furniture isn’t as easy as a barbell deadlift. Awkward angles can occur, the ground can be uneven, and you can’t always maintain straight arms and the perfect lumbar curve while lifting. Can you pick up an eighty-pound sand bag or fifty-pound bag of dog food that is going to shift weight and keep from injuring your back? Life constantly presents us with situations that can require technically improper form or, at minimum, slight compromises.

functional fitness, movnat, jeff kuhland, outdoor fitness, learning new skillsIf you never train for the unexpected or the plethora of different situations that arise can you truly be prepared for life? In CrossFit almost all of the exercises occur in a single plane of motion. CrossFit trains people to be prepared for anything in life, yet the training variety can be quite restricted for your average box member. I believe that CrossFit is a truly valuable system, especially since I manage and operate a box, Jamerson YMCA CrossFit. It is one of the most well rounded systems in place, yet still we lack interaction with nature, uneven terrain, and varied situations. When we jump in a gym it is primarily onto a box. How about jumping to a target or over a potential hazard like a creek?

Your challenge this week is to get outside of your comfort zone and transfer your fitness. Your comfort zone is dynamic, and if you never push the limits it slowly shrinks. So if you are a runner, try getting out and lifting. Start with some lifts in the gym, get some core strength and stability, and then apply it to picking up a rock, the couch, or something different. If you normally just lift, get out on the trails and go for a hike or a short run. Is all of your strength helping you?

functional fitness, movnat, jeff kuhland, outdoor fitness, learning new skillsFind different situations where you can expand your limits and see if your fitness truly crosses over. Try out a local rock climbing gym, rent a kayak and go on a paddling trip, or see how far you can hike in a day. Pushing your mental limitations is just as important as your physical limitations.Something like learning a backflip into the water can challenge your coordination and mental fortitude while also being very rewarding. Success is contagious and once you begin to explore new skills and limitations you may want to set new goals.

Set a goal to achieve a challenge off this list:

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