“Functional” Movements

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The common mis-conception in ‘Functional’ fitness facilities is that they’re doing functional movements because they’ve seen what our CrossFit workouts look like and go “yeah we could do that and just call it functional fitness right?”

Well, wrong.

If you define a movement to be functional simply because it looks like a real life scenario you’re missing the biggest pieces of the pie.

A deadlift (picking something up from the floor) is functional because you do this everyday, but if that was the only thing you needed for it to be functional you shouldn’t get mad when I programme mop my gym floor for time. You do it everyday at home so it must be functional…

Functional movements are unique in there ability to produce power. You must decide not only what movements to choose that meet this criteria but you also need to decide on a movement standard for each of those movements. If I squat 100kg with poor form, half depth and incomplete lockout at the top I have produced significantly less power than someone who does the same weight to full depth with complete range of motion to the top. This is the biggest difference between your functional fitness facility and CrossFit.

CrossFit have you nail a movement pattern or standard of movement first and rather consistently before we even think about adding weight because of how we define functional movement.

I PB’d but my form needs work” simply doesn’t cut it in a CrossFit gym. Sorry.

Functional movements require universal recruitment patterns. Your body is designed to move in unison from core to extremity. Every time you lat pull down or bicep curl instead of a pull up you use significantly less power. Are lat pull downs and bicep curls beneficial? Yes. Are they essential? No. Are they functional movements? No.


Because they produce significantly less power compared to a pull up. If you fancy doing the math the equation used is from year 7 physics.

Power= Force x Distance / Time

Functional movements are in your DNA. You don’t need a machine to be invented in order for you to do the most beneficial movements on the planet. Squat, Push up, Throw, Pull, Jump, Run, Hang, Climb and Clean… we’ve been doing these movement since the stone age.

Functional movements are SAFE!

Inside every functional movement lies a failure mechanism designed by nature to keep you safe. If you can’t hold your legs out in front of you in an L-sit for example your legs will instantly lower or come back toward your body to prevent your spine from snapping. A bit like when you burn yourself on a hot pan, without having to think your body hits flight mode. You can try and force your way through it but nature just won’t let you.

This is why you see people able to leg press 200kg in a machine yet unable to perform a barbell back squat with the ability to keep a stable midline or full range of motion. Functional movements won’t lie to you.

Functional movements start at the core and radiate to extremity. Think about throwing a ball, those that stand hips forward and only use the arm to throw will throw a significantly shorter distance than those that stand side on rotate through the hips and throw the ball first from the core extending out to the shoulder, elbow and finally flanges of the fingers.

Greg Glassman once said and again I’m paraphrasing here “the minute everyone is doing CrossFit, nobody is doing anything.” it’s because of how we use and define functional movements that means until you’re in a CrossFit box with a coach teaching you these things, you’re nibbling the edge of the pie and you’ll never see the tip of the spear…


Functional Movments

Universal Recruitment Patterns / Multi Joint
Unique ability to produce power
In your DNA
Real life scenario
Core to extremity


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