Functional training isn’t functional for everyone

With the popularised trend of “functional fitness” and “movement” training, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon of doing moves that your body was “meant to do” and “designed for”. I am here to tell you right now: your body was designed for fuck all. It is just a sack of bones that learns what you tell it. If you never cause the stimulus for an adaptation then it’s going to get pretty immobile. Whatever state you let it get in to is the state you are going to have to work with when you decide to start burning some calories or doing some fun stuff.

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So, that being said, deciding at 25 that you are going to do handstands because they are “functional” is just dangerous. If you have never required any overhead reaching ability in your younger years, the chances of you having the prerequisite shoulder mobility to be able to cope with the stresses of a handstand are very slim. And on the topic of slim, if you are grossly overweight, gymnastics movements are definitely NOT the best thing for your joints. That’s not insulting, that’s just physics.

You should always, in my opinion, get a coach to get started with anything. We just don’t know if we have the capacity to do something, and the only way to find out is under an experienced eye. What becomes dangerous is when you decide to crack on anyway assuming you’ll be fine. People’s inability to be patient astound me, I would classify myself as pretty carefree and stupid sometimes but I do always have my body and its long term health in mind…. only through functionality though, not sweeties….

Squatting isn’t for everyone at the start and it takes years to perfect a squat, people just see it as ‘up and down’ but it is something that can ALWAYS be improved and made better. Same goes for jumping, running, landing – everything that you do can always be better, and it’s only through focus that you will grow. Don’t just do things, do them.

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It is hard to float in between perfectionist syndrome and having fun. The main thing is not to become scared of anything, or avoid stuff and live in a bubble. Think: can I do that exercise? Should I do that exercise? Will that exercise be beneficial to me long term? And if the answer is no to any of those questions, then find a way that can lead you getting a yes; if it is mobility drills or losing some weight first, or even gaining some weight. You have to think of what will put you in the best possible position to do something you really enjoy and not get injured.

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This is a private mobility session I had with my good friend Liam, he had a few issues holding back his squat and overhead pressing. Over the course of an hour we had ironed them out and he walked away knowing exactly what to work on, now he is back doing most of the things he loved to do before years of nagging injuries:

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In my experience, really wanting to do something or really wanting to be good at a certain skill really motivates me to do the boring stuff. For my squat I had to try everything to make my hips feel comfortable and make my knees feel like they wouldn’t explode, yes it took some time but now I just squat and can simply maintain it through squatting. I still do a fair amount of hip mobility because it makes me feel stronger for weightlifting and I want to lift heavy ass weights – NOT because I feel weak or scared.

You are an individual and you have to look out for your own best interests. There are always other options for everything and paths to lead you towards anything you want to do. Be a legend within your own capacity and always look to improve and get stronger.