Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Functionalism: A Conclusion (Part 6)

I've strung you all along for quite a long ranting series of posts on Functionalism. I figure it's time to wrap this up before the dead horse gets beat anymore! Here's a little summary of the series:

Functionalists. Part 1. The garbage man story. Why can the scrawny trashman lift and carry bags and cans with ease? His body had been conditioned and adapted to succeed at certain physical skills. He performs better than muscular men who are all-show-no-dough. However, there are other physical attributes that the garbage man lacks...those that his JOB does not "require." He is excellent and most efficient at what he does in his career, but is he prepared for the other tasks that life dishes out?

Functionalist - Defined. Part 2. A Functionalist is one who prepares for a life strewn with physical tasks, efforts, and obstacles (both planned and unexpected), by learning, mimicking, and perfecting those body functions and abilities necessary for survival, completion, efficiency, and victory. There are movements each and every one of us must master to live a productive physical life. We're not all trench diggers or SWAT police officers, but we are all human animals required to do physical tasks...with some basic fundamental level of fitness. Even if our jobs do not require physical fitness, our lives do. We lift, carry, bend, twist, rotate, grab, and squat.

Functions. Part 3. The more tools in the handyman's toolbox, the more he can fix. Likewise, the more physical fitness attributes one possesses, the more able or prepared s/he is for physical tasks. The various dimensions of physical fitness include: Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Endurance, Coordination and Agility, Strength and Stamina, Flexibility, Power, and Speed. Unless we are competitive athletes, we should avoid polar extremes of bodybuilder or endurance athlete...striving instead for a compromise as a jack-of-all-trades...one who can do it all.

Functions - Input versus Output. Part 4. The math lesson. Input is a list of movement patterns in the exercise routines and drills we do. Output in the physical realm refers to "what I need to get done" or "the end product." Identifying what end product you'd like will help you decide on your Input. If you have no sport or physical aspect to your job, then maybe the ability to live a healthy EASIER life is the output. There are basic fundamental exercises to help you reach that Output. Now, what Input?

Most Functional Movements/Exercises. Part 5. There are certain movements and exercises that replicate, simulate, or have the most cross-over value into reality. These include: Air Squat, Turkish GetUp (TGU), Kettlebell Figure 8 to a Hold, Sumo Deadlift High Pull (SDLHP), Thruster, Inverted Row, Pullup, and Deadlift ...among others. High fitness can be had with not much more than this fully-integrated list of moves. As this list begins to expand, isolation and specialization slowly begins to seep in.

Summary. Becoming or being a functionalist is about returning to the basics. It's Old School. It's efficient. It maximizes the human potential. But first, it's about determining goals: Why are you exercising? What tasks do you wish to complete, or to be ready for? What is your desired Output? Tailor your fitness system around those goals. Then, make a commitment. A commitment that includes the most basic of human body movements. These are exercises from which ALL humans will find great benefit. Life's challenges require we possess a well-rounded or multi-dimensional approach to physical abilities. If we specialize, we will find failure in another aspect. Instead, strive for excellence across the board.

Life is about performance. You can't fake ability. You either have it or you don't! Go out and get those skills and win! Address your weaknesses. Most importantly, prepare yourself by doing movements that replicate reality...the way YOU live it.

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