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Moving Functionally

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By Coach Tim

Most of us remember the first time we walked into a box, full of apprehension and preconceived notions of what CrossFit was all about. After years of on-again, off-again stints at the corporate gyms around town with marginal success at reaching our goals, we were looking for something different. Perhaps the most striking thing was all the open space. Where was all of the equipment? Once the workout started, you realized quickly that this really was something entirely different. All those reps of preacher curls and leg extensions seemed pretty useless when you were 5 minutes into a 20-minute AMRAP of burpees, box jumps and wall ball shots. After the workout, as you tried to catch your breath and waited for your heart to stop pounding in your chest, you tried to process what just happened. Why was that so challenging?
So, what is it? What’s the secret? Stated simply, CrossFit is constantly varied, functional movements at high intensity. After a few workouts, the constant variation and high intensity are self-evident, but what is functional movement? The movements utilized in CrossFit are functional because they have the following characteristics:
They are natural – Functional movements are the same movements we use in our everyday lives. They use universal motor recruitment patterns to achieve their desired effect. In other words, they use the same combination of motor skills that you might use to sit on a chair, get up off the floor, or lift a child into your arms.
They are safe – Functional movements are mechanically sound, incorporating muscles and joints within their normal range of motion. As with any movement, proper technique is also important. When used with proper technique and appropriate loads, functional movements minimize the risk of injury.
They are essential to independent living and quality of life – Functional movements fight off decrepitude. Decrepitude is the primary reason many people end up in assisted living and retirement homes as they age. They are forced to give up some degree of independence because their bodies can no longer move functionally and they must rely on others for assistance.
They are compound and yet irreducible – Functional movements are compound because they utilize multiple joints and muscle groups to generate a full range of motion. They are irreducible because you cannot break them down into separate movements and get the same benefit. This is a key difference from the repetitive circuit of isolated muscle movements commonly used in the corporate gym environment.
They generate power from core to extremity – Functional movements transfer power from your core muscles through the kinetic chain out to your extremities, allowing you to exert greater force. By starting at your core, these movements stabilize your midline and create a bridge to transfer force onto an object (i.e. a barbell, dumbbell, wall ball, etc.). The stronger the bridge, the greater load it can handle.

They generate a greater neuroendocrine response – Neuroendocrine response refers to a change in the body that affects you either neurologically or hormonally. The most significant physical adaptations to exercise (think muscle growth & fat loss) are in part or completely the result of a neurological or hormonal shift. Functional movements are far more effective at creating these changes than isolation movements.
Taken together, the characteristics of functional movements allow us to increase our individual work capacity. They enable us to quickly move large loads over long distances by generating power through safe, natural, compound movements that we already use in our everyday lives. They can help you maintain your independence into old age. And finally, functional movements can help you achieve those goals you set for yourself by strengthening your body from core to extremity and creating the noticeable physical changes that you have been working so hard for.

Ready to see those changes? Ready to regain/maintain your independence? Ready to move the way our bodies were designed to move? Schedule a Free No Sweat Intro and sit down with one of our highly trained coaches. They can answer any questions or concerns you have as well as help you to develop a plan for reaching your goals.

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