So what is functional training? Cook (2010) defines functional training as "Purposeful exercise that displays a certain amount of carryover into other activities. Functional training should not only improve the ability to perform that exercise but also improve some other physical movement not directly practiced." For example the power clean or the hang clean can be performed in a manner in which performance in the exercise is improved, but more importantly, in most populations, we see improvement in the hip, knee and ankle extension that is critical to sprinting and jumping. Therefore the hang clean and power clean can be considered functional exercises for the populations in which we see improvement in those abilities. This is very important. Notice that we must consider the population when selecting exercises and determining what exercises will untimely improve function. What improves function in one person may not in another and in fact may be counterproductive.
Many of you have likely heard of corrective exercise and mobility work. Maybe you even put in the time trying to improve your mobility and while it can be tremendously beneficial, but it can also be counterproductive, or at best a waste of time if you don't need it. It's the same principle applied to functional training and it is largely determined by the individual. So how do you know if you need it? We need to evaluate and assess. At Lift Strength and Conditioning I use Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen (FMS) to screen and evaluate clientele. By using this screen we are capable of determining any mobility, stability or movement pattern retraining needs. This gives us a documented baseline for your current movement capacity and gives us the framework to correct any deficiencies you may have. By having a documented baseline relative to a standard we can systematically correct, check, and re-check our progress to ensure your valuable time is being used effectively and efficiently. Through this system of check, correct, and re-check we have a very clear understanding of our current and past movement capacities as well as a clear direction for future improvement. This systematic approach not only identifies what exactly needs to be corrected but offers a hierarchy as to what deficiencies need to be addressed first. For example, we know that authentic stability must be preceded by sufficient mobility and that for successful, authentic movement pattern retraining the presence of both mobility and stability must be present (Cook, 2010). These needs simply cannot be identified without proper assessment.
So how do corrective exercise and functional training work together? The answer is simple. We must have the basic movement capacity to promote improved function. Corrective exercise provides the base for functional, authentic movement and functional training maintains that base while improving physical capacity and without compromising any other levels of function (Cook, 2010).
Cook, G. (2010). Movement, Functional Movement Systems: Screening, Assessment, and Corrective Strategies. Santa Cruz, CA: On Target Publications