The 4 Principles of Functional Training – Principle #2 Reaction vs. Injury

I cannot tell you how many injuries I have seen over the years from people adhering to bodybuilding and machine training principles instead of functional training principles.

Functional training is “reactive” teaching muscles to “fire” in a pattern, with primary “moving” muscles and secondary “stabilizing” muscles working in sequence to execute movement. This integration engages strong, stable “core” muscles aiding in balance. The result? Your body attains equilibrium between strength and flexibility, between agonist and antagonist muscles, increasing functionality while reducing risk of injury.

The bottom line: you can either have a bulky, unfunctional body that is injury prone or a lean, functional one that is resilient. It also never hurts that functional training workouts are shorter, more effective, and more interesting than all those monotonous curls, leg curls, bench presses, etc.

Exercise Myth #2 – It’s Best to Train to Failure

For those who think training to failure is a good thing, answer this question: ‘In what sport is it advantageous to train to failure?’ Think about it – are you going to hit tennis balls until your body fails to swing the racket, or are you going to stop practicing when you start to lose your form and effectiveness? It’s common practice to stop training when you lose effectiveness in all sports. Furthermore, who wants to train with the mindset of ‘training to failure’? Most people would never dream of ‘training to failure’ in other areas of life. So, why do people use this erroneous philosophy in the gym?

Jerry Stackhouse using proper form at studio in Raleigh, NC

Is Proper Form
missing in your workout?

Proper Form or Failure?

When strength training, many people want to ‘burn out’ every set or at least one set every workout. Some use the argument that you don’t break down your muscle enough when you stop before burning out. It’s ludicrous to think that your form will stay perfect when you reach the point of failure. Trust me, I’ve seen thousands of people do it, and it ain’t pretty. Many people often injure themselves by training this way. At the very least, you actually weaken your tendon and connective tissue strength and stability over time. This defeats the very purpose of ‘strength training.’ I can attest to this first hand.

Training to Failure and Injury

When I was in high school, I trained very hard in the weight room to perform better on the playing field. However, I trained by the notion that it was always good to train to failure. I often compromised the quality of the movement for quantity of repetitions. Over the course of 2 years, my strength dropped and my shoulders began to weaken by training this way. I could actually feel the weakness. I eventually had a complete dislocation of my right shoulder while playing football. Even though the actual injury occurred on the football field, I caused the shoulder weakness and stability problems from improper training, which led to the injury.

Work on Flawless Technique when Exercising

Thus, my advice is to focus on flawless technique when exercising or strength training, and put the weight down or stop the exercise when you are no longer able to maintain perfect form. If you don’t know what perfect form is, educate yourself or seek the help of a qualified personal trainer or strength specialist. Injuries stink, but most are preventable.