Functional Training Zones

Applied Functional Science

Tips to Consider
Consider the tagline of Gray Institute®: “The Source. Your Source.” Gray Institute® is “the source” of Applied Functional Science®. More notably, Gray Institute® may already be, can be, or perhaps will be “your source”—your ongoing source of continuing education, information, application, and inspiration. Education...we never stop learning, do we? Robert M. Hutchinson is quoted as saying this: “It must be remembered that the purpose of education is not to fill the minds of students with facts; it is to teach them to think.”

Education is thinking. Thinking is then doing. Doing is then achieving with purpose. When it comes to movement, please consider the following tips in your education, in your thinking, in your doing, and in your achieving with purpose.

Tip #1: Move in Three Planes of Motion
Perhaps one of the most fundamental and influential movements is a lunge (a step and
return). Instead of lunging in one direction (most commonly seen going forward), why not lunge in the six pure angulations (forward, backward, to the same side, to the opposite side, rotationally to the same side, and rotationally to the opposite side)? This allows for both your driving hip and your stance hip to experience all six motions (flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, external rotation, and internal rotation) that are needed and available at this powerful joint. Think of the implications of this tip for all movements!

Tip #2: Allow Muscles to React Authentically
The textbooks say that the all-important abdominals flex the trunk. When lying down on your back, this is true. When upright, this is false (as our friend, gravity, accomplishes this feat for us, free of charge). So how would you like to train the abdominals for upright function? A traditional sit-up may not be the best bet. In fact, a sit-up calls for the  bdominals to “act” instead of “react.” Muscles are dumb and react to movement, so facilitate movement that turns them on naturally, authentically, and three-dimensionally.

Try this: Beginning with both hands at your shoulders, alternate each hand to reach (or lift a dumbbell) overhead and backward, overhead and to the opposite side, and overhead and rotationally to the same side. Now those abdominals are reacting in the right ways. Think of the implications of this tip for all muscles!

Tip #3: Allow Muscles to Fire Subconsciously
Instead of telling your muscles (or your patient’s or your client’s muscles) to fire, tweak the movement so the firing (eccentric lengthening) happens automatically and subconsciously—how our muscles operate in the real world.

Try this: Fire those glutes! Lunge forward. Now, lunge further forward to facilitate more hip flexion and more glutes firing in the Sagittal Plane. Next, lunge forward and to the opposite side to facilitate more hip adduction and more glutes firing in the Frontal Plane. Finally, lunge forward and point your foot inward to facilitate more hip internal rotation and more glutes firing in the Transvers Plane. Think of the implications of this tip for all muscles!

Tip #4: Tweak Success for Twofold Safety
You know, there is more than one way to squat. So why do we squat like there is only one way? Maybe, due to safety. The safest (and most common) way to initially squat is with your feet side-by-side, shoulder-width apart, and pointing forward. Based on this success, though, why not tweak in all three planes of motion?

Try this: Squat with your right foot slightly forward compared to your left foot and then with your left foot slightly forward compared to your right foot. Next, try squatting with your feet slightly greater than shoulder-width and then slightly less than shoulder-width. Finally, try squatting with both feet slightly pointing outward and then slightly pointing inward. These six tweaks from your original form allow for added success in your squat-ability and in real-life applications (where you will rarely squat with your feet side-by-side, shoulder-width apart, and pointing forward). Training should parallel function and life. Think of the implications of this tip for all movements!

Tip #5: Integrate Instead of Isolate
Which part of the body directly affects the shoulders? Hint: This is a trick question. The answer is the entire body, but more precisely the thoracic spine, hips, feet, and ankles. From this example, you can clearly see how the body illustrates a Chain Reaction®.

Try this: Let’s take a closer look at the right shoulder. For the shoulder to flex, the thoracic spine and the hips can assist by extending. For the shoulder to extend, the thoracic spine and the hips can assist by flexing. For the shoulder to abduct, the thoracic spine can assist by laterally flexing to the left, the right hip by adducting, and the left hip by abducting. For the shoulder to adduct, the thoracic spine can assist by laterally flexing to the right, the right hip by abducting, and the left hip by adducting. For the shoulder to horizontally abduct, the thoracic spine can assist by rotating to the right, the right hip by internally rotating, and the left hip by externally rotating. For the shoulder to horizontally adduct, the thoracic spine can assist by rotating to the left, the right hip by externally rotating, and the left hip by internally rotating. Think of the implications of this tip for success throughout the entire body!

Think, Think, Think
Enhance your life and the lives of others by implementing these Applied Functional Science® tips from Gray Institute®: Move in three planes of motion, allow muscles to react authentically, help muscles fire subconsciously, tweak movements for success, and integrate instead of isolate. The more you know, the more you can do, and the more you—and your patients or clients—can achieve. Access more valuable Gray Institute® resources.

“It must be remembered that the purpose of education is not to fill the minds of students with facts; it is to teach them to think.” Robert M. Hutchins

(June 2016)