Functional Fitness Training

Functional Fitness TrainingIf you want to improve your lifestyle then you should be training to the principals of functional fitness. If you find it hard to cope with what’s required of you on a day to day basis you need to start training and do something about it.

If your in this category then Functional Fitness Training might be the answer.

The term functional fitness describes a process of training, not the end result.  It is relative to your specific needs.  For instance my needs as a 26 year old are very different to that of a 50 year old female.

It’s very easy to confuse functional fitness for your lifestyle with sport specific training. Yes, being in great physical condition is indirectly beneficial to most sporting endeavors, but each sport will have an intricate skills set that will need to be trained for or in other words you still need to integrate relevant training to improve your physical ability as well as rely on whatever natural talent you’re blessed with by genetics.  But remember, if your not an elite level footballer then your lifestyle does not perhaps require you to to have the physical attributes that come along with that profession.  However that said, can you ever be in too good a shape?  I doubt it.  Just make sure you first tick off the requirements of your professional and recreational pursuits first, then begin to take on the world!

Functional Fitness Training isn’t new.  It’s about taking things back to basics and stripping back the fads in the fitness industry today.  Functional Fitness is about the basics of human movement in its purest form.  It is about encouraging our bodies to move as effectively as when we would plow the fields every day and not sit hunched over a steering wheel on the way to work, at a desk all day at work and at the coffee table at night.

Functional fitness is about using all of your body at once.  This means the practical application of this type of training is endless.  Functional fitness is about teaching all of your muscles to work together rather than in isolation.

Here are some great guidelines to follow from the US based functional training expert Vern Gambetta.

Simple to Complex: Start simple, progressing to more complex exercises only after mastering the basic movements of each exercise.

Known to Unknown: The training environment should begin with controlled, low-neuromuscular-demand exercises and then proceed to less-controlled, more proprioceptively challenging environments.

Low Force to High Force: Train lower-force, more controlled movements until you can master those movements, then proceed to higher-force, ballistic movements.

Static to Dynamic: Start with exercises in a stationary stance, then as those movements are mastered, add more dynamic movements.

Lying to Sitting to Kneeling to Standing (Two legs) to Standing (One Leg): This essentially takes into account all the previous steps in the progression. Lying and sitting are very controlled and proprioceptively less challenging than going to standing and then standing on one leg.

Functional Fitness is designed to help you get the most out of your body. To help you become more efficient and enable  you to cope with the tasks of your day to day life much easier.

Functional Fitness is just as much about teaching your body to move effectively and efficiently as it is about improving performance.  There is no point working on the performance outcomes of an exercise until that exercise can be performed effectively and efficiently.  Take a 100 metre sprint time trial.  You would aim for the best time over a distance until you had learnt the most effective running technique, starting position, etc.  This way you will give your body the best potential of achieving the optimum result.

The concept is simple, just train your muscles to accelerate, slowdown and stabilize, to do this statically and dynamically, both fast and slow. Use compound (multi-joint) movements in various directions and at different speeds.

From elite athletes to seniors functional fitness is the best way for you to cope with the activities of your day to day lifestyle.

Before you should tackle this type of training you need to ask yourself a few things.  This is not to discount your self from this type of training, but possibly to add other elements into your training.  You need to know what your lacking, what you need to work on most.  So that the elements you are going to need to work on are worked on.

Posture and body alignment – Does your body align itself effectively.  Does your body sit the way it should?  Chances are all of us have somethings we need to work on here.  As we age small dysfunctions appear due to injury, our profession etc.  This doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel.  It means we should acknowledge this and add things to our training that will improve these imbalances and therefore improve our overall performance and condition.

Coordination – There is no point attempting to do a squat standing on a fit ball if you cannot first perform a normal squat correctly as your coordination wont allow it.  Once again, don’t give up, or revert to machine weight etc (as these don’t require coordination and balance).  Simply start slower and integrate exercises that will improve your balance and once again, improve your overall condition.

Flexibility – Can you touch your toes?  Ok that may not be entirely relevant but how are you going to improve your performance if you cannot work through the most advantageous range of movement for a specific joint.

Balance – If you want to get yourself into the positions that will require core stabilization you will need an element of balance.  Balance is also essential in your progression to more difficult exercises.

Core Strength – A strong core is the key to increased sporting performance.

So now that we know the elements that we need to work on, how can we progress fundamental exercises to be far more challenging for our balance or core? By moving from stable positions for exercises to unstable positions, we place more demand on our bodies and force the elements we are looking to improve to be challenged. Think of progressing from a deadlift as the balanced exercise, to say a single legged deadlift as the progression.
Progressions of exercises are limitless with some professional guidance. Single arm deadlift, Kettlebell deadlift there are many ways to make things tougher. And these progressions are in no way limited to just the deadlift.

So what does this all mean? Well, would you consider a seated machine chest press to have a high degree of transference to your day to day life or to a sport you’re involved in? Or would you be far better served with a staggered stance cable chest press? The standing chest press allows you to utilize the muscles of your core and rotate through a more natural plane of movement, where a seated machine chest press will not engage the same postural muscles and the transference to real life situations is diminished.  Like wise the functional exercises you choose as part of your training plan need to have an amount of transference.  Is there really any point besides the party trick aspect of being able to do a bicep curl whilst standing on a swiss ball? Unless you are a circus performer, this would have very limited transference to real world situations.

If an exercise machine requires you to be seated into a fixed position, or lying fixed on a bench to a position then it will not allow you to move through alternating planes of movements.  If you can not move through alternating planes of movement then it is unlikely you are working in a real world situation.

Bodybuilding training has developed extensively over the past 20 years and is extremely effective at building bulk and muscle but this size is rarely transferred into usable strength and increased athletic ability.  So if you are using this type of stimulus to increase your performance hopefully this post has encouraged you to rethink the way you are training.  However if you are using that type of training for aesthetics alone then don’t move over to functional fitness training.  Aesthetics are a result, but not the focus.  By integrating elements of core and balance training into your strength training sessions we can see a far greater improvement in your overall functioning and performance.

So, do you already train to the principles of functional fitness? What sort of benefits have you seen? What are the exercises that you have seen the greatest benefit from?  I would love to hear about your experiences.  Check back on this post often, as you can see it’s a long one, and it will be continually evolving!



Moderation in Moderation

Moderation in ModerationStarting, and continuing for that matter, on a healthy lifestyle plan can be tough.  Many people end up throwing in the towel as things get harder because they get bored with the monotony of there regime.

Remember always strive for balance in your life.  Balance your exercise with your rest and relaxation.  Balance your intake of fluids, ensure you are eating well.

And remember, everything in moderation and that includes moderation!

When you feel like having a blow out… Do it!  Just remember to get back on track with the very next meal, if not then, the next day.  Especially if you are feeling the effects of a hang over for example.  Get out for a walk at very least.

But remember always try to minimize the effects or size of your slip up.  A four day bender is not going to really do wonders for your waistline or fitness levels but a meal off once a week is something that can be accounted for.  Speak to a personal trainer about way you can minimize your blow outs, and hopefully be prepared better for times when you are at risk.



Tuesday Newsday: Caffeine in Sport

Tuesday is now Revolution Newsday.

We will bring you current news updates each week about what is happening at Revolution and right across the world of health, fitness and sport.

So… Waddaya wanna know?  We would love to hear suggestions or topics that you would like to gain a little information on.  However if like today there is something dominating the news that we think we can shed a little light on, your topic will take the back seat for a week.

Ok so, it was made public late yesterday that unfortunately once again Ben Cousins has been admitted to hospital with what appears to be an adverse reaction to a sleeping tablet.  First and foremost we hope he is on the mend (just heard a news update that he is leaving intensive care, so that’s great news).

The news services are reporting that after ingesting an amount of caffeine before or during the game on Sunday (in which I was heart broken due to my boys the Swannies getting beaten in the final 10 minutes of so!) followed by an amount of alcohol and then sleeping tablets.  These are the early reports and could change over the next few days, or hours or minutes, as more is made public.

After hearing and reading this in the news I thought I would write about caffeine and its use in sport.  The caffeine however is most probably not responsible for Ben’s admission to hospital in this case, but maybe through a combination effect with other substances it had contributed.

Make no mistake, caffeine is not just used to help awaken athletes prior to the game if they are feeling a little sluggish and don’t want there double shot espresso sloshing around in their guts as they run around for four quarters.  It’s used to increase their sporting performance.

Does that make it a performance enhancing drug that should be banned?  Who am I to make that call.  However it has been on the list on band substances previously with a certain dosage being outlawed.  Now it has been removed from that list.

So, why do footballers and other athletes use caffeine.

Caffeine has been proven to have a number of benefits for long duration, endurance events such as AFL football.

It can benefit an athlete in two ways depending on dosage and the intended result.

Firstly as everyone is aware caffeine has a stimulatory effect, meaning that the senses are aroused, reaction time is reduced and generally preparedness for action (sport) is increased.  Although I am reminded of the redbull add with the cartoon man on the beach and his “redbull can” standing to attention as the bikini topless girl is sun baking nude close by.  However that’s not the same type of action the caffeine in the redbull is intended to increase the performance of…

Secondly caffeine can help with your bodies ability to metabolize fuels whilst exercising.  This effect of caffeine is only relevant with long duration endurance events.  The body is able to use fat more efficiently as a fuel source with high dosages of caffeine so it can preserve its stores of carbohydrate for later on in the event.  As fatigue sets in and your competitors slow down you have more of your bodies preferential fuel source in reserve.  You are also able to slow your fuel consumption of carbohydrate as generally fat is not used as a dominate fuel source until much later on.

These results have been studied vigorously within the sport science world but are misinterpreted often by the general public wanting to emulate their sporting hero’s of whom they are told are consuming caffeine for increased at the elite level.

Caffeine has previously been a banned substance in many competitions but these regulations have generally been lifted.  As a result it has slowly become more and more popular with sports such as AFL and Rugby Union.  Some athletes report cramps and other side effects due to the use of caffeine as caffeine is a dehydrating agent.

Dosage for is very relative in terms of performance benefits.  I feel it is very dangerous for the wider public to see these athletes using a widely available substance like caffeine flippantly.  I have witnessed the trickle down effect first hand after a few years ago a number of news stories were release of footballers using ‘NoDoz’ tablets when playing.  Every local level weekend warrior had a few tablets stashed away in there mouth gaurd case the next weekend and for the rest of the season.

My summary… I dunno!  This is a tough one.  You can’t ban a substance like caffeine, but encouraging it’s wider use for sporting enhancement could possibly lead to some very dangerous side effects with younger users.

I would love to know your thoughts.



Do we need a Council for Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition in Australia?

Recently details were released from the US that President Obama is constructing a council dedicated to the integration of fitness, sport and nutrition in the American community.

There are obviously high hopes for the findings that this council will have and how more can be done to integrate more of the community into sport, fitness and good nutrition. The council is made up of personal trainers, Olympians, nutritionist and many other suitably qualified specialists.

I believe that we need to be placing a lot more emphasis on these issues at a government level here in Australia as well. With an election looming hopefully more initiatives surrounding community health will be looked at thoroughly and announcements of a similar nature will be made.

As a community we need to get kids involved in sport at a younger age and make it part of their lives for the long term. Getting these initiatives entrenched in our family routines and lifestyles is what we need to make the norm. The community as a whole will see the benefits.

I come from a family where it is part of the routine to head down to the local footy club on a Saturday. We are all not only involved in the activities of the afternoon but it is an opportunity for us to interact positively with other members of our local community.

It seems that this is a closed group here in Australia at the moment and we need to actively encourage many more Australian’s to get involved with sport and fitness in their local community.

I believe some of the initiatives such as the AFL Auskick program are great at encouraging local involvement and set up our children with many valuable skills for them to take into adulthood but we need more to be done across a board range of sports and age levels.

One of the focuses on the new US council will work in conjunction with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative working to tackle childhood obesity which is climbing tat a rapid rate here in Australia.

One of the big focus’s from the initiatives will be getting outdoors and active, something that has been taking second place here in Australia as we become professional spectators with many activities and our daily lives become more and more sedentary.

I would love to know your thought’s on these initiatives and if you think more needs to be done here in Australia to make a difference with our Fitness, Sport and Nutrition focus as a community.

What tools do you think you need to do this more effectively?

You can read up more on both of the initiatives below.





World Cup Athlete’s Impressive Fitness

Fitness Fernando TorresAs a personal trainer based here in Melbourne my enthusiasm has diminished for the World Cup now that the Socceroos have he bundled on a plane back to home.

I had endured the late nights and subsequent painful early mornings that are required of a job like being a personal trainer.  But the pride of supporting my country far outweighed the pain of a sleepy afternoon and the price of my 4th latte for the day that I needed to get me through.  I felt proud, sleepy, but very Australian!

But now my focus on the World Cup has changed. I am needing to find a new motivation to get me through the following day after breaking my self imposed curfew. I’m generally bundled off to bed at around 9:30p at the latest so I can face the 4:00 or 5:00am wake ups!  However I think I have found the motivation to stay awake in the athletic ability of these elite players.

I have been a casual follower of soccer as we call it here in Melbourne for quite a few years but never really appreciated their athletic ability before.  But with this World Cup now nearing the pointy end of the competition it is really becoming apparent.  Not only are they supremely adapted to the stop, drop and roll principal should they suffer the most glancing of blows but they truly are amongst some of the fittest athletes in the world.

Two 45 minute halves of repeated sprint efforts is impressive. I remember hearing suggestions earlier this year that the AFL should be changed to 45 minute halves to help prevent injuries etc. I doubt they would cope.

There are no excessive bench rotations, and quarter time breaks here.  Just continuous running. But I guess you would want to be expertly prepared for the worlds biggest sporting event should you be paid enough to just about buy yourself a suburb of Melbourne at the end of each season.

Also the majority of these athletes have just finished playing in the elitete leagues across Europe just before joining their national teams, and they will be back to their domestic competitions, most of which begin in late August.  They are basically playing year round.  And many weeks its more than one game per week, with Champions Leagues etc occurring.

So for the remainder of this tournament although I will be enjoying their diving and award winning acting but I will also be focusing on the way they can still pass with relative precision (even with a dodgy ball) in the 90th minute of the game.

These, in my opinion, regardless of all of the tattoos, dyed hair and expensive cars, are some of the most impressive athletes in the world!

What sport would you consider to have the fittest athletes in the world and why?

Image credit: http://coolfwdmail.blogspot.com/



Group Outdoor Personal Training

Group Outdoor Personal TrainingI have just finished up with our Saturday morning group and was so impressed with how far they have come over the past about 16 weeks that I thought I would dedicate a post to that group!  Also we have recently been receiving more and more interest in our group outdoor personal training sessions. The numbers are great and the feeling in the groups are fantastic.  We are looking at kicking off another Saturday morning session over the next few weeks and have earmarked an 8:00am start kicking off just before our current 9:00am group.  We thought a 10:00am time slot would cut into peoples Saturdays just that little too much.

We have found that these sessions have been great for our clients to use as an additional session to their personal training, as well as for customers who don’t train with us during the week to get a great tough structured session in if there schedule doesn’t allow for personal training. It is also fantastic as the cost of the groups makes them that bit more affordable to the one on one sessions.

Our small group personal training sessions are ran at alternating locations each week to keep things interesting and fresh so they are never dull and boring.  This morning we were at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, working around The Tan and even down within the gardens.  It’s a fantastic place to train and the surroundings around some of the best in Melbourne.  Even though it was a little cold this morning we couldn’t have asked for better conditions.

The locations are spread nicely across the city so that all of our sessions are just as convenient for all of our customers.  We might be at Albert Park Lake one week, then around the Maribyrnong River the next so the spread is great.

The Group Personal Training sessions involve activities like boxing, kick boxing, body weight training, running, interval training and a few curly surprises each session to keep you guessing.

We focus on full body work outs each and every session to make sure you get the most of training.

Numbers are kept under 10 so that we can supervise and guide everyone well, which is crucial to make sure things are done safely and that we can individualize things for everyone’s specific needs.  The groups are generally ran by Tim, he is a great trainer, but as mentioned occasionally the trainers will change and I took over this morning.

We hope that you can join us on these new sessions and that they are just what you need to push your training to that next level.  Send us through an email if you are wanting to get started, or if you would like any more information on the groups.

We hope to see you there!