The Secret of Functional Strength

Well, it’s only a secret if A) you haven’t really tried to think it through, B) you don’t read much, or C) you forgot. Here’s the secret, the goods, the bounty, the treasure . . . it’s quick, it’s light, and best of all it’s portable. I can vouch for this last one . . . I lifted it directly from the books of Dan John.

Never Let Go

Ready? Good. Pay attention, this is gonna be quick:

  1. Push Movements
  2. Pull Movements
  3. Hinge Movements
  4. Squat Movements
  5. Carry Movements

No mystery, but lots of magic. In fact, that was such a quick burst, here’s a little more to chew on.

Push Movements are exactly what they sound like. Either you are pushing an object (probably weighted) away from you, or you are pushing yourself away from an immovable object. Either one works.

Pull Movements are also pretty self-explanatory. You pull yourself toward something, or you pull something toward you.

Hinge Movements might need a little clarification. Functional strength begins with your hips . . . not your back. Kettlebell Swing variations are good examples. You don’t bend your back, you thrust your hips back, protruding your booty for the first half, then pop your hips forward for the second half. Watch yourself in a mirror, see the hinge. Learn what it feels like and practice it often.

Squat Movements could be considered Push Movements, but are categorized separately to remind you not to skip your legs. While not the most important muscles, they are the largest muscles, and if you want the rest of your program to work, don’t skip your legs.

Carry Movements are even more overlooked than Squat Movements in gym culture and fitness regimens the world over. Rarely to we get anywhere in life without having to carry a physical object the distance we travel, so don’t forget to train this incredibly functional movement in your strength training.

Most people tend to be stronger in one of these five areas than the other four. This creates an imbalance in our strength, and carries over as an imbalance in our lives. The secret of functional strength is to be strong in each of these five movements. Very simple, very quick, and portable enough to take with you anywhere.



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