I keep using the term functional training and functional movement, and I get asked what I mean by functional movement. The difference between most sport training and functional training is the range of motion or ROM.
Typically, weightlifters training for lifting events train to go parallel with the ground for the depth of the squat. That means the femur bone is parallel to the ground at the lowest point. This is roughly halfway down. This measurement was designed for competition to show low enough since everyone wanted to be strong, like Olympic-style lifters that became the standard.
However, in functional training, we want the body to move the entire range of motion. For this reason, in the case of squats, you go as low as you can.
Drop down to the ground if you can. This allows for strength and function through the entire possible range of motion.
However, because most people have to reduce their weight for this, and people are taught big muscles only come from heavyweight, only a few train this way.
Functional training is not looking at weight but how the body moves and training to strengthen the entire range of motion in the range of motion that the body creates, not what you can make in the gym.
So if you want a healthy, functional body, start training how your body moves.
In other words, maximize the range of motion, not the weight.
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Dr. Matt Chalmers
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