Ever since I got my CSCS, I’ve been much more tolerant of so-called “functional training”. Being a HIT/SS guy, I have to admit that there is utility in functional/sports-specific training, but the vast majority of it remains, in my eyes, a complete waste of time (I’ll touch upon this some more in later posts, since nothing’s better than a HIT guy ranting about how functional training sucks). There is definitely a time and place (and population) for it, however – particularly if you are dealing with an individual who is particularly robust and/or supremely conditioned.
This morning I read an article in one of New York’s free papers, Metro, reviewing a gym typical of this ilk. “Back to the Basics – Rocky Style” on page 15 entails the various training methodology of Cutting Edge Sports Sciences, a gym in Albany, NY. The bolded quote says it all: “If you just want to look good, this isn’t for you. We’re talking about functional strength.”(emphasis added)
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a sucker for a good strongman competition. I personally really enjoy farmer’s walks, sandbag tossing and carrying, and I’ve even been known to bench with the odd chain or two. But I am armed with the knowledge that these activities are simply hard work, and that they do not magically impart special abilities (other than brute strength) that will add to my jiu-jitsu game. Nor will they make me more “explosive”, any more than more conventional methods of resistance training and sports-specific drills will. They are, simply put, a diversion from the norm – tools to combat the tedium that is incrementally improving my attributes a little at a time.
“We’re pretty anti-machine here,” says the proprietor, Dyke Naughton. No problem – I mean, they were only invented to make one’s life easier. After all, you don’t need to use a washing machine to do your laundry; it’ll get just as clean if you hand-wash, just like the Eastern Bloc athletes used to do. And you’ll get a great pair of forearms to boot.
At least I know who to call if I need the tires on my monster truck rotated.
All kidding aside, there’s no great secrets to athletic performance and great health: get as strong as possible and condition your body as closely as you can in preparation for your activity. After all, many roads lead to enlightenment. Some are just a little more windy and circuitous than others (although that can be great fun, too).
I’d provide a link but the Metro website is so abysmally slow I’m afraid you would kill yourself waiting for the pdf file to download.