Functional Strength Training

In most gyms you’ll see lifters moving weights up and down, but that leads to compression on your joints and spine.

In our gym, we prioritize lifting weights through a horizontal force to train the muscles to contract the way they do in the real world.

Weight lifting that you see in most gyms builds muscle through vertical forces, BUT your muscles don’t work like that.

Your muscles function through multiple forces and need to be capable of dispersing force horizontally and vertically to help your body move well through all planes of motion.

So before you pound out rep after rep of barbell squats or bench presses, recognize that your body doesn’t actually move like that on a regular basis.

To learn some functional alternatives check out the Functional Patterns Training System to set your body up for the world it lives in.

Come meet our team, we’re the only trainers in San Antonio who are FP Certified Human Biomechanics Specialists, ready to help you address your dysfunctions and move better!

Exercise for Life

We teach our clients to move intentionally to connect the upper body and lower body contralaterally. Bipedal contralateral movement is what developed our muscles, and why they function the way they do.

Modern times have made it difficult to keep our muscles functioning the way they were designed because we use the wrong lifting patterns when we exercise, we’re sedentary… and then we SIT on an exercise bike for “exercise”, we stretch the wrong way resulting in flaccid muscle tissue. All of these variables effect the way your body functions in real life.

In our gym we train your body to move the way your body naturally moves in life outside the gym. Simple looking, but not so easy to perform (correctly) when your body has been out of touch with these foundational movements. It takes time and repetition to reconnect your muscles and get them working optimally.

Functional Alternative to “Traditional” Glute Bridge

Why is this exercise superior to the traditional variation of the “bridge?”

This exercise is teaching muscles to contract the same way they do to support these joint positions in reality. Not necessarily this exact position, but the overall position of the joints relative to other joints.

For example, the problem with the traditional glute bridge is that it trains the hips to extend while the knees are in flexion- when in reality this joint position combo doesn’t happen. When your hips extend, your knees are also extended- so it’s important to match the exercise up with what happens in reality to condition your muscles the way they naturally work.

Google “glute bridge” and you’ll see the difference in the exercise pattern between the traditional technique and the functional technique. Basically speaking, when your hips lift up they are extended, and when your hips are extended in real world movements, your knees are also extended. Hence why we teach our clients to perform the glute bridge with the hips up and the knees straight. This way teaches your muscles to associate contractions with the way they contract in the real world, providing more muscle support for your joints inside and outside the gym.

Our team of Functional Patterns trainers do a phenomenal job educating you about why certain exercises don’t work the way we thought they did. Instructing you through functional alternatives that train your muscles to function properly with the rest of your body, in the context they’re supposed to work.

What To Expect In Our Gym

In our gym, you won’t see an exercise demonstrated and then be expected to execute it while our trainers stand around and count reps.

Instead, what you’ll find is trainers who show you how the exercise should look, coach you through the technique, and then ask you where you’re feeling it to make sure you’re doing it correctly.

If you’ve been hurt by trainers in the past, come and see us, not all trainers are created equal. Our team is made up of Functional Patterns practitioners that are taught cutting edge techniques to get your body out of pain for good, and moving better to enjoy an active lifestyle!

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?