The Most Functional Exercise?
When we talk about functional training we are generally thinking of two different concepts. While they are related, theyoften can confuse people a bit. One is the idea that people associate functional training with movements, actions, and activities we perform in every day life. In fact, that is probably how most people see and think of functional training. However, there is another equally important way of examining what functional training really means.
If we use the term “functional” we are looking at how to make the body work better. Yes, to function better in life and sport. That requires us to know HOW the body functions in order to improve how it works. Focusing on kinetic chains and being able to maintain proper positions and posture during more complex movements really bring together the ideas and essence of functional training.
That brings us to this months Metabolic Stability idea of one of the most functional exercises we can perform, the Clean. An exercise that satisfies both base concepts of functional training. Not to mention we can get into very important ideas about power development, declaration strength, and reactive core training.
Of course what holds people back from using such a great exercise are several obstacles. The most notable that for many coaches it feels like a far too complex movement for clients to perform with great success. Then you have another group of coaches that see Cleans as only the barbell weightlifting version. Both are challenges in their own right!
That is why this month’s Metabolic Stability is designed to break down both of these myths and show you how both accessible and versatile Cleans can actually be in your training!
Kettlebell High Pull & Catch
Kettlebells offer us a wonderful opportunity to teach Cleans in many different forms. From learning to coordinate independent moving weights, to asymmetrical loading, and all the way to moving through different planes of motion, Kettlebell Cleans have incredible value and variety.
The challenge for Kettlebell Cleans comes in the frustration many feel in avoiding the “whack a wrist” which still poses issues for many. While some coaches see no way around such problems, Coach Troy Anderson, posses a simple, relatively easy, and incredibly effective solution, the high pull and catch.
Why does this drill work so well? Firstly, there is no need to get the kettlebell on the back side on the wrist. This allows coach and client to focus on concepts like proper hip hinging, tension in the ground and kettlebell, and possibly most importantly, learning the movement of the arms to avoid the banging of the wrist. This will set a very valuable foundation for some of our Clean progressions.
Ultimate Sandbag Power Cleans
One of the biggest obstacles for many wanting to use the Barbell Cleans is the issues of wrist flexibility and lowering of the load. For this reason alone Ultimate Sandbag Power Cleans can be a big savior for many fitness programs. Not only do we eliminate the need for that dramatic wrist extension, we also get to focus on the deceleration of weight. This is important as more injuries occur during deceleration than acceleration.
While these reasons alone would validate the use of Ultimate Sandbag Power Cleans, there are more great reasons to add them into your arsenal. Unlike the barbell, the Ultimate Sandbag is slightly unstable and changes dimension as you get heavier. Both these ideas challenge your movement accuracy, efficiency, and stability.
Finally, we can add movement in many different directions allowing us to create power and movement in planes of motion most fitness programs never touch. That is always a mystery as our movement in life and sport usually don’t occur just up and down.
Kettlebell Lateral Cleans
The frontal plane in many fitness programs tends to be a rarely explored or trained area of strength. Even though it may be one of the most important in improving resiliency and real world performance. That is because of the lateral chain that has huge impact of the mechanics and function of the hip and core.
We see this impact in the fact like experts such as, Dr. Stuart McGill, places the side plank in his “Big 3” spinal stability measures. Sure, we often see a side plank here and there and MAYBE a lateral lunge, but RARELY we ever see power development used in frontal plane training. That is where tools like kettlebells and Ultimate Sandbags give us a unique opportunity to build true functional training.
Ultimate Sandbag Firefighter Clean (Shouldering)
When it comes to what we do in real life, we rarely see occasions where we and the load are perfectly balanced and predictable. The simple act of picking up one’s child shows how awkward lifting an external load can be in life. Our work with police, military, and fire departments has really demonstrated how imperfect life can be and how our training should evolve.
That is why we wanted to rebrand the idea of “Shouldering” into the Firefighter Clean. Mostly to help people think about what the demands of life really ask of us and how sometimes limited we are in our training. It is also done to reinforce how our performance is based on not just what our bodies can lift, but what we can resist as well.
Cleans open up a big opportunity to look at functional training more multi-faceted and provide not just more options in training, but better options in developing well rounded functional fitness.