What Is Functional Strength

Earlier I mentioned that sandbag training improves functional strength. What the hell is functional training? Great question!

Many trainers speak of functional training, but few understand the true concept. Functional exercise is classified as multi-plane and multi-joint movement. Athletic movement occurs throughout several planes of motion. You run, jump, duck, pivot, and attack from different positions. Competition is random, multidirectional, and unpredictable.

An athlete who isolates individual muscle groups when lifting fails to prepare the body in a functional manner. Functional training prepares the body for real-world challenges. When you train with functional movements, you prepare the body for the rigors endured in competition.

Sandbag training will closely mimic the spontaneity of an actual opponent. The bag is uncooperative. The sand will shift back and forth, as you lift, throw, and drag the bag. The unpredictable nature of the bag is similar to the random, multidirectional nature of athletics.

It is important for combat athletes to train with movements that incorporate strength, balance, explosiveness, core stabilization, and coordination. Do not fight nature by conforming to the controlled movements of a nautilus machine.

The next time you see someone training with a fancy resistance machine, walk over to him, and

drop a 150-pound sandbag on his lap. I am willing to bet that the machine did not prepare him for the inexpensive bag of sand...

Athletes must train with movements that target the entire body, challenge the core, and travel throughout several planes of motion. A functional program trains movements, rather than individual muscles. When you train with functional movements, your strength becomes multi-dimensional. Why limit yourself to one plane of motion when competition is so complex and multifaceted?

Sandbag training will force your body to work as an integrated, functional unit. You will be forced to maintain balance and stabilization, while lifting and moving an uncooperative sandbag. Do not make the mistake of training muscles on an individual basis. Competition does not isolate individual muscles, so do not deceive your body by training this way. Functional training will improve strength, flexibility, core stability, coordination and applicable muscular endurance.

Make better use of your valuable training time by developing real-world functionality. Do not waste your time developing superficial strength that lacks application. Train in a manner that mimics the physical demands experienced during competition.

Train your body to become a functional unit, capable of multi-planar and multidirectional action. If you compete in a combat sport such as boxing, wrestling, or MMA, you will react and attack from an infinite number of positions. Combat is unpredictable, so do not limit your training to machine-guided movements. Train throughout several planes, with explosive, functional movements. Integrate a sandbag into your routine to develop the brute strength necessary for combat.

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