Functional Fitness Part 1

Functional training can mean different things to different people. In our gym, it means exercising to coincide and enhance your body’s natural movements- like walking, running, lifting objects, standing, and navigating daily demands without pains or injuries limiting your function.

Humans innate biology designed us to stand, walk, run, and throw. These functions shaped our muscles and the way our muscles work. This is why our trainers prioritize exercises that match these types of movements. The outcome is a well connected, strong, and mobile body that can withstand the demands of the real world, because real life enforces these mechanics consistently. As opposed to movements like crawling (not a regular function after we learn to walk), burpees (beating your body up to burn calories from overeating), step aerobics (repetitive strain on your knee joints), spin classes (conditioning your hips to be stuck in flexion, like sitting all day) , or powerlifting (not the same demand as lifting an object because the barbell limits your range of motion).

If you like disconnecting your legs from your upper body during spin class, overdoing HIIT classes to punish your body from overeating, using your lumbar spine as a lever during powerlifting, or just like acting like an animal and crawling around the floor- then you do you. BUT if you’re only doing these types of things because you’ve been told they’re healthy or they’re going to help you, then stop and reconsider how your body actually functions (standing, walking, running, throwing) and if these types of exercises are reinforcing these functions or causing dysfunction.

Stay tuned for our next post as we elaborate further on these different modalities.

How Do You Train Your Pecs?

Did you know your chest muscles (the pecs) dominate movements like punching, throwing, and even running?

The pecs were designed for these functions via human evolution- throwing spears, pumping the upper body when running from danger, and fighting for survival.

These muscles also connect into multiple kinetic chains and when we move, they function together with the rest of the chain to produce more power and efficiency. For example, the pecs share functions with the nearby oblique muscles and function more often through rotational mechanics, like throwing, instead of exclusively pressing motions.

Traditional chest training like the bench press and pushups will make your pecs stronger, but not the rest of the chain your pecs connect to. Therefore you’re only strong at the bench press and not functional activities that require you to use your pecs the way they were designed.

The bench press is one exercise we were taught to make our chest stronger, but the chest predominately functions in different patterns than the bench. When we go to use our pecs the way nature designed them, but we’re unnaturally training them, they aren’t prepared for reality and injury risk goes up.

Come work with trainers who know the way your muscles need to be trained, and how to teach exercises that go hand in hand with their natural function(s). At our gym, your muscles are prepared for real life so your body can function without pains and injuries, the true meaning of strength.

Our Trainer’s Aren’t Cheerleaders

At this gym you won’t find trainers that cheer you on to finish reps just to say you completed the set. Instead you’ll find trainers that coach you through the ins and outs of each rep to ensure your performing the exercise correctly.

You’ll be taught exercises specific to your body and what you need relative to the goals you have. You won’t be shown an exercise just to get your heart rate up and sweat pouring just to make you feel like you worked out hard.

We don’t see the point in getting your body moving fast and hard in the beginning, if you’re going to default to moving incorrectly and compensating your way through a movement. We take things slow to ensure that your brain and body are connecting on the same level and you’re learning how an exercise should feel, what muscles are working, and why you need to do it a certain way- when all your body wants to do is move through the path of least resistance, tricking your brain into thinking you’re doing it right.

So if you want learn how to exercise instead of just going through the motions (setting yourself up for pain and injury), book an initial consultation with our trainers today. This isn’t the Orange Theory’s, F45’s, CrossFit’s, or the Gold’s gyms of the city- we personalize our unique approach to training the human body. The way it was meant to be trained to prevent injuries and rehab existing ones, in the process of building strength and mobility that translates to the real world.

SAID Principle

Your body adapts to the demands you constantly place on it. This summarizes the science behind the SAID principle; Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. For example, by only doing squats for your lower body, your body adapts to this specific physical demand, but not to other patterns or environments for the lower body, like walking or running.

Another example can be if you sit for extended periods of time, your body will start to change and adapt its structure to the sitting environment that it’s constantly in. This makes it difficult to move correctly when you try to pick up your favorite recreational sport or hiking trail on the weekends, and leads to overuse on certain muscles and eventually pain or injury.

With only so many hours in the day, we all have minimal time to exercise. Which offers a unique opportunity to impose specific demands to counteract the effects of your normal environment. Meaning if you sit a lot, initially you’d want to choose exercises that promote trunk and hip extension, to work in opposition to the spinal kyphosis and hip flexion patterns of sitting. As opposed to sitting all day then getting on a bike and cycling; same pattern/demand as sitting. So nothing improves and your body further adapts your structure to your sitting environment. This can be a problem when you expect your body to perform like it always has.

Circle back to our initial example about squatting and the limits it places on your lower body function. The muscles of the lower body- glutes, quads, hip flexors, calves, plantar fascia, etc.- have all evolved to help the human structure walk and run. It wasn’t until the 1960’s-1970’s that Arnold Schwarzenegger popularized training the muscles outside of their intended functions and with exercise patterns that didn’t replicate the way the muscles worked together to produce human specific movement. A couple decades of consumers training the human body this way (coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle), led to a disassociation with our natural movement and one of the main reasons most people deal with some form of ache, pain, or injury. The body has adapted to exercises that don’t mesh with the way the body actually needs to move.

Whatever demand you put your body through repetitively, intensely, and subconsciously will be what your body is forced to adapt to. Make sure what you’re teaching your body has a carry over to the roots of your human function, so you can continue to move well, without pain, as you age.

Come As You Are

We aren’t the typical gym that advertises chiseled abs and huge muscles. We welcome the unfit. That’s why we exist to help you become a fitter, and better functioning, version of your current self.

If you can’t function well, then your ability to thrive in your environment (the definition of fitness) is diminished. That’s why we emphasize the importance of using your muscles the way there were designed to function.

In the process, weight loss, muscle mass, strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility, and mobility come along for the ride. As your body relearns functions, old injuries, aches, and pains also get rehabbed simultaneously.

Chiseled abs and appropriately sized muscles are what we work toward, but not until the prerequisites of fixing your mechanics have been established. This sets your body up for achieving these goals, without pounding your joints and compressing your spine in the process. First things, first.

When you want a trainer that prioritizes the same goals as you, without hurting in the process, then we’re the gym to help you!

Note: this is a process and not a magical over night fix. It takes time to undo the damage your body has been through from dysfunctional exercise habits, injuries, and pain that comes on from both of these. Once we undo the dysfunction then the possibilities are endless. Just ask our current clients!

Training For Life

Traditional exercise techniques yield strength that is limited to the exercise itself and has minimal carry over to the dynamics of reality. Often with aches and pains coming along for the ride. If you want to sustain fitness without the damaging side effects then the way you train must coincide with the way your body naturally moves.

Squatting with a bar on your back or over your head, isolating your arms or legs on a machine, spinning your legs in circles on an exercise bike are all very common exercises. Just because everyone is doing them doesn’t make them the most beneficial because they put your body through mechanics that alter the way your body naturally moves.

This builds muscles that move your body inefficiently and contribute to poor mechanics during what you do most, like your gait cycle. If what you do most becomes poorly executed then injury or pain is likely. We combat the norms of traditional exercise and program mechanics that reinforce the way our muscles were designed to function and the natural movement they produce. This approach allows us to live pain free lives and get back to enjoying freedom of movement.

If you want your life back before aches, pains, and injuries limited you, then try a year training the way we do. You’ve already tried the other way. How’s that working for you?

Why We Do What We Do

A lot of you have been asking what we do, and the simple answer is we want to bring value to our customers lives. Whether that’s helping them out of pain, building muscle and strength, aligning their posture, or getting them to move better to reduce their risk of injury. All of which go hand in hand.

The fitness world is littered with trainers that promote getting stronger but usually at the expense of your posture, muscle strain, joint pain, and movement restrictions. We opened our doors to be a solution to this approach to getting fit, by teaching alternative techniques that simultaneously build strength and mobility without damaging your joints or exacerbating muscle imbalance.

We are Functional Patterns practitioners providing training that your body needs to function without adversity. Come try our gym to experience where personal training meets physical therapy. We help you reach goals you thought weren’t possible!

A Purpose Of Exercise

Keeping as many muscles on the body engaged as you move through an exercise is crucial to reinforcing the way your body functions outside of exercise 🦾

Creating and maintaining tension is priority to prevent going through the motions with a flaccid structure 🥀

Just like a flaccid 🍆🙉doesn’t work, a body void of muscle tension won’t work optimally either. This is what sets the stage for pain and injury down the road 🤕

If you expect to live life without dull aches and debilitating pains, all of your muscles need to function the way they were designed to, to support your body the way you want them to🏃🏻‍♂️

Work one-on-one with our team of trainers to build your body for the life you’re living! Contact us today to get started!

210-947-4597 OR info@safunctionalfitness.com

Surgery Isn’t Your Only Option

It’s unfortunate that so many surgeons push surgery to correct injuries and pain brought on by mechanical dysfunction. Surgeons are crucial for emergency surgery, but when it comes to addressing bone malformations, joint replacements, spinal fusions, etc., they fix the joint at fault but don’t take into account what led the joint to get to that point in the first place, or how that newly fixed joint is going to mesh back into movement with the rest of the structure. Sometimes surgery fixes the issue you’re complaining about but creates another one.

Sometimes surgery is the only option, but if you’re like us and want to prevent surgery or approach rehabilitation from a non surgical route, then your training should address what is causing the problem. Exercise no longer has to be exercise to lose weight or sculpt a ripped physique. The right kind of exercise can provide rehabilitation to old injuries, while simultaneously building muscle where your body needs it, to prevent future injuries!

Don’t get trapped in the mindset that you need to exercise to lose weight (that’s mostly influenced by your dietary habits anyway) and then because you’re dealing with pain or suffering from an injury, you need to carve out more time to go to physical therapy. As mentioned, the evolved way of exercising takes into account therapy that the body needs to mitigate pain and injuries while you exercise.

But exercise can’t be performed the way you’ve always trained, or the way you see most others exercising or being trained, because those same exercises are likely leading to worse mechanics that cause your body to be more prone to injuries and deal with aches and pains. Exercise needs to be pinpointed to simultaneously build the strength and muscle you desire, to support your body, without causing poor movement patterns that lead the body to pain and injury that require surgery.

Circle back to why you need surgery in the first place, and what options you have to heal. Surgeons are always going to look at the problem and what surgery can do to fix it, occasionally you’ll get sent to physical therapy, but usually it only delays surgery or the surgeon will only see surgery as the only option to fix the issue. We want you to know, there are likely other options to fix the issue. Because sometimes the issue you complain about, isn’t the underlying issue. Sometimes it goes deeper than having knee pain and you need a new joint. Sometimes building a strong core and glutes will help support your pelvis better and influence the movement of force in the knee joint. Sometimes building a strong upper body will help your lower body move better, leading to less stress on the knee joint. Sometimes it’s a combination of things that improve the health of your knee joint. We work to get to the bottom of what your body needs to improve your overall health and function.

If you’re on the fence about surgery to fix an issue, you might want to consider the recovery from that. Using the knee for example, if the issue is with weak glutes or a weak upper body, surgery magically gives you a new knee joint, but if you don’t address the weakness in your body, in a few years you’ll be back in the same predicament. Your new joint will take the same force that your real joint used to take on because the rest of your body wasn’t built up to support your movements.

We are the only personal training studio in San Antonio that trains this way. We don’t like to call ourselves personal trainers because we get lumped in the category with the rest of the industry’s trainers. We are Functional Patterns Human Biomechanics Specialists. If you’re not familiar with Functional Patterns, look it up. It’s what sets us apart form the rest of the trainers out there and it’s the way we conduct our training sessions- to improve the current body you have, naturally and non invasively. For obvious reason we don’t display the corrective exercises that rehab your body, what you see on our website and social media is a tip of the iceberg of what we do. We only showcase the dynamic exercises that reinforce the corrective exercises we do behind the scenes.

Sure, it will take time, but with the work we put your body through, the results will last over time and not offer temporarily relief, but relief that is here to stay! Come find out more about our style of training and why it’s changing the fitness and rehab industry.

Automated Muscle Contractions

Learn to move your pelvis and ribcage in multiple contexts, against multiple demands.

These structures influence function in the upper and lower extremities, alignment of the spine and head, and the ability to engage powerful muscles- like the glutes, pecs, lats, and core!

It’s one thing to consciously contract the glutes or your abs during an exercise, but in life outside the gym your muscles contract automatically based on the position your body is in.

Ergo, when we train clients in our gym we aren’t cueing them to squeeze this muscle or that muscle during an exercise, instead we cue them to align the structures of their body in a position to illicit an automatic muscle contraction.

As these positions become more efficient, we can tailor the exercise position to the specific context that it’s encountered in the real world to produce efficient movement, facilitated by the correct muscles automatically. That way when you’re out for a walk or playing a tennis match, you don’t have to think about what muscles are controlling your body and you can just go!

Control over these regions during exercise will enhance your movement potential in the real world because of their influence on multiple muscle functions, and how that contributes to efficient body mechanics.

You only have one body, learn what it needs and how to supply its needs with our team of biomechanics specialists training you on your journey to strength, function, and sustainable fitness!