Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Real Functional Strength
The word "Functional" has been one of the most overused terms in fitness today by shmucks who have no clue what the word truly means. Let me brief you in, when they talk about functional; it has no real world value. It is not functional to stand on a ball and squat with a barbell, it is not using a machine that supposedly works multiple muscles for the real world; for the most part, functional is certainly not when you do bodybuilding type exercises. You have been lied to and been sucked into this belief that fitness is all about the beautiful setting of a gym and its ok to do itty bitty exercises for the muscles you supposedly want to grow and look like a bigger shmuck. Functional is when you carry a large weight say a keg or a log, functional is when you use multiple muscles in awkward positions, functional is the ability to squat and stay there for a period of time, functional is sprinting as if your life depended on it and one more example, functional is when you lift weights that involve basic pressing, pulling, squatting, grip work and utilizing every muscle within the exercise.
When you see people lifting in Crossfit or those gyms that supposedly share what strength is, very rarely you see real lifting when it really counts. Lifts like overhead presses, picking up heavy objects off the ground, dragging heavy chains, swinging heavy sledgehammers, pull-ups without kipping, moving across the bar, walking with heavy objects like kettlebells or dumbbells, tossing a heavy ball overhead. These are real world exercises and although I love the idea of having fun and making cool workouts, I also believe in when the time comes to use that strength when it matters most. You're not going to help anyone by doing wrongful snatches, wearing out your joints faster and bruising your entire frame just to gain an inch of muscle and you're certainly not going to be saving lives with tricep kickbacks or balancing on your tippy toes as you squat on a bosu ball. Sorry to be an ass but you know what, I'm telling you for your own good. Plus 2 hours or more at the gym isn't helping your cause, if you happen to be in a fight, it's not going to last like a UFC match, you need to handle it as fast as possible when it comes down to it. Focus on what truly matters.
One of the greatest exercises you can ever do to get in shape in record time is not lateral raises or 15 pound rows on a machine, it's swinging a heavy sledgehammer on a tire. No you don't have to be like those back breaking dudes who smash rock 12 hours a day (although it definitely worked for one of the last old-time strongmen) but this type of training works the whole body and it doesn't just build muscle but tendon strength as well. Think about it, in order to keep a steady pace of hitting a tire (or pile of dirt/sand) you have to keep a solid grip on the handle; doing this in high repetition will make people think twice about shaking your hand. You can get a typical good sledgehammer at a local hardware store like Home Depot or Lowe's and they're inexpensive but the cream of the crop of sledgehammers belongs to my man Ryan Pitts at Stronger Grip. His hammers are legendary not just for their craftsmanship but the power and strength needed to hold on to even one of these bad boys take a special kind of person to handle it. His Epic Sledgehammer is my all-time favorite next to the Thor Hammers, this mighty tool looks like something that was made on Asgard or Mt Olympus very powerful and breathtaking. You can do all sorts of things with this but the basic swing on a tire turns boys into men in a heartbeat. My best with the Epic (that weighs 26 pounds empty) is 520 reps, that's moving a total of nearly 7 tons of raw power in my hands. So let me ask you this, would you rather have a 3 pound dumbbell that doesn't do anything but look embarrassing or would you like to hold something that looks like it was built by the Gods of Mythology and be able to build realistic and superhuman quality like strength?
Functional in reality is building solid muscle that is realistic, agile, flexible and powerful as oppose to bloated shit that only looking good is all that it does. Athletes of yesteryear didn't care that much how they looked but rather depended on the strength they have managed to achieve and not just have it for a short period of time but for a lifetime and use it whenever they could at any time they wanted. Quality is to be respected and made to put effort into, not always the quantity or the "look" that is supposedly the way to go about things. Don't believe me, take a bloated Mr. Olympia wanna-be up against and put him up against someone like John Grimek or Bill Pearl, hell how about George Hackenshmidt and I guarantee you not only would this guy get his ass beat but the other guy wouldn't even have broken a sweat. Real muscle is built on smart training, intense focus and quality food and rest. I do admire bodybuilding in some form but to say these guys are strong and durable (extreme few are) is just laughable. Learn and research the real ability to develop functional strength from the guys that have the real inside scoop on building world-class strength without the need of artificial steroids or any of that drug related crap. Earn it and live it.