Functional Strength

by: Brian Dick

What is Functional Strength Lab? What is Functional Strength? And why was Functional Strength Lab created?

1.   What is Functional Strength Lab?

As with any new catch phrase or trending topic, there usually exists an uncertainty around an agreed upon definition for the new subject. Functional Strength and functional strength training are no different. In fact, because functional strength exists in the fitness space, the debates and arguments ongoing are perhaps even more common and heated than in other circles. Fitness and strength training, with their vast array of governing bodies and certificate and licensing granting institutions create an environment rife for disagreement and groups defending their positions overtly. (These are the things that frustrate me the most about the fitness community. People for whatever reason (ego, proving that they made the right decision, or lack of research) tend to defend their methods as the end-all be-all — oftentimes for all people and all sports. These debates are taking place on blogs, seminars, research, podcasts, etc., etc.

Functional Strength Lab does not wish to engage in any of these debates. We do not claim to know everything, but simply wish to impart knowledge gained through personal endeavors and research. The site is designed as a blog, mostly to bring up interesting topics or research studies that we’ve recently uncovered and read. They may not be new or relevant to everyone, but they are things that we find interesting and want to bring to light. We also have include links to sites and products that we find interesting, and have been beneficial in our own training. We have included various fitness calculators in order to help our community become more quantitative in their workouts and better track improvements.

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2.   What is Functional Strength?

At Functional Strength Lab we consider functional strength as any neuromuscular improvements that increase one’s performance in sports, at work, or in everyday life. Functional strength excludes (for the most part) aesthetically-focused muscle building or even mass-building muscle improvements. Rather functional strength focuses more on the balance, flexibility, and speed improvements of the neuromuscular system. We feel that these improvements relate more closely to “relevant” strength, rather than simply focusing on how much weight you can put on a bar or how big you look in the mirror.

3.   Why was Functional Strength Lab created?

Personally, this transition in focus to functional strength over “bodybuilder” strength or Olympic movements strength has occurred later in life and after many years of tweaking my training for my personal passion Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Earlier in life, sports like football had me focused solely on putting on mass, and improving my maxes on bench. As I age, I see the err in my ways, and notice that these sports community ideologies often pressure young athletes into weight programs that do not necessarily maximize performance to the fullest. While I agree that different sports require very different training regimens (particularly the differences between football and jiu jitsu), I do feel that oftentimes strength building and functional movements are held as two different topics addressed in different areas of training or on different days all together. By creating this site, it is my hope that others can see the intra-relationships that exist between these two topics, and how one could vastly increase their efficiency and overall performance by looking at fitness and strength in this same light. Strength, speed, flexibility, and even mental training can be conducted simultaneously, creating the most effective, efficient system possible.