September 19, 2019
5 Benefits of Functional Strength Training
Written by: Femi Doyle-Marshall
If you are desiring to get strong then this article is for you. In it we will discuss a few training options and methods that could be used to help you to accomplish amazing feats of strength. Wanting to complete a hand stand, press 2x over your body weight or move freely without pain?
Strength plays a role.
Get stronger everyday and you will be gradually inching towards the outcome you are looking for.
Leading the core of this article is understanding the word topic we are focused on.
Strength Defined Courtesy Wikipedia
“Physical strength is the measure of an animal’s exertion of force on physical objects.” This force can be applied by lifting, pulling, pushing or throwing an object. Any tool can be used to measure strength. Measurement leads us to the first step to get strong.
Stack 1: Set the Baseline – Know your numbers.
Knowing your numbers is a great method for tracking your results. If you are looking to get stronger manual note books, charts and pads can work. We’ve been using spreadsheets to calculate formulas and easily sync the information into a cloud network for easy access. When in the gym or at home all that is needed is your phone to pull up the information. Whichever method you choose make sure you have something recorded. Starters in programs usually don’t test with weights. Free body or body weight movements are the core and we assess those numbers. Simple yet effective.
Testing Tips: Record you maximal number of free body squats (lower body dynamic) and your total time held in plank (static core) position. Both numbers will give you an idea of where you are at for lower body and core strength with your future training goals.
Stack 2: Select your Practice – Find your ideal training style.
One you have an idea of where you are starting then the next step is selecting your practice, method or training style. Keep in mind “increasing physical strength is the goal of strength training.” – Wikipedia. You want to find something that can get you to your end goal. Bodybuilding, strongman, gymnastics or anything in between can work. Observe which resources you have access. Maximize those resources and produce the outcome you are looking for.
Personal Practice: In selecting a practice that is ideal for you the best strategy is to have your primary program. This could be a simple 3 day strength based program (full body) or a similar 4 day program. Once this has been outlined adding in extra activities can be used to help with recovery and variety.
Stack 3: Progressive Overload or Progressive Resistance – Gradual increase for maximal results.
Progressive overload is a time tested method to get stronger. By changing the amount of weight gradually overtime whether body weight or plate loaded you will see results (proven for general population here and Boomers here). Getting stronger requires a change in stimulus. If you are lifting something over a long period of time your body will adapt. Avoiding that from occurring rapidly will ensure you are getting results. Without challenge you have the risk of stagnating or plateauing.
On Resistance: When training you can modify the reps, sets or weight in a workout to increase the difficulty. If you have percentages calculated for your workouts you can easily increase 5% per workout or so depending on your goal. This can make you home routine or gym sessions easier to track. Another method is to increase weight gradually by 5-10 lbs per week. These numbers are all modifiable based on your fitness level and training goals.
Stack 4: Specificity – Target your weak areas.
Specificity as a step is one that can be used to keep you focused on your training outcomes. Distractions or disruptions in programming can lead to inconsistent results and impact everything you are working towards. In a 2002 article Resistance Training for Health and Performance written by Kraemer et al. the top 3 mandatory principles to maximize a program included 1) progressive overload (should look familiar – see step three), 2) specificity, and 3) variation. So if some results are missing from your current program be sure to look these three over routinely.
Precision Method: Which area do you need to improve in the most? For example if you want to complete a pull-up you may need to do work specific to helping you complete it. Inverted rows can be a stepping stone towards doing it or any other back based exercise to help with strength. With your set framework target any weak areas that you need to improve on to produce the outcome you are looking for.
Stack 5: Intensity – Challenge yourself to push through.
If you push yourself consistently you will get results (research found here on high intensity benefits of strength/endurancee and Boomer data results here). This statement made is not considering your current level of fitness and health. Be sure to ensure you are healthy prior to pushing. Moving on, intensity can get you results. Mind you this relation may only benefit if you are already physically active otherwise any type of movement can get you going (one study on sedentary women, weight loss and exercise intensity found no difference in results from the activity shown – read here).
Challenge Yourself: In any activity you do which is new (ie. load or weight lifted, exercise type or repetition) you can find a change in intensity. Connecting back to being specific select activities that meet your goals and challenge yourself within your means.
In review if you stack intensity with specific exercises, add in progressive overload, have selected an ideal practice and set the baseline you are on track to get results. Variation as mentioned in the above article is extremely important later on in programming. I would always recommend learning the fundamentals of a movement pattern then adding in more challenging exercises. With the resources here you should be well on your way to producing real results. Mind you this is only the tip of the iceberg. You can look at your program cycle for a week and change almost anything from within it.
And that’s it! If you have any questions be sure to reach out and ask us.