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138 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn the latest developments in functional training - a must-read for the coach, trainer or athlete, March 7, 2010
This review is from: Advances in Functional Training: Training Techniques for Coaches, Personal Trainers and Athletes (Paperback)
If you're reading this review, you likely know what functional training is and probably know far more than I do about it. But for those who may not know, let me clarify.

At it's most basic, functional training is a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life.

So my interest in it is to make the second half of my life full of quality. I know that as we age we lose a tremendous amount of muscle, strength and power. To be able to lift large sacks of groceries and throw 50 pounds of dog food on your shoulder and take it to the basement without pain or effort, is functional to me. I'm not training for the NFL.

So, to a large extent, this book isn't written to me. In fact, the real audience for this book are coaches, personal trainers and athletes.

The author tells us, "Coaches need to move forward in their programming and use exercises that make sense and will actually reduce the potential of injury." That's the basis of the ideas in this book. Exercises that make sense and reduce the potential of injury.

ACE (American Council on Exercise) says, "At the extreme, some individuals believe that by mimicking the explosive, ballistic activities of high-level competitive athletes, they are training in a functional manner. All too often, however, such training programs greatly exceed the physiological capabilities of the average exerciser, which ultimately increases the possibility that an injury might occur. Most would agree that there is nothing functional about sustaining an injury due to improper training."

So the author, using many sources and resources, teaches the safe way to train for function. You won't find crunches or exercises that can be dangerous at most and ineffective at the least.

"The real key," says the author, "is for the athlete to possess a good ratio of pulling to pushing strength. This is best estimated by comparing an athlete's maximum number of pull-ups to his maximum bench press weight."

This is similar to the way yoga uses poses and counter-poses. In other words, if the front is not worked equal to the back, problems will crop up and injury can result. And when you work one area of the body, you need to do an equal amount of work to the opposite area of that muscle or muscle group.

The author tells us that pain in the knees is usually not a problem in the knees but the ankle or the hip. I found this valuable information as I always assumed that if you did knee exercises you would cure your knee problems. The truth is, according to the book, you only mask the symptoms. So, you have to exercise the area where the real problem exists if you want to cure the problem.

I was surprised to learn the author doesn't favor leg extensions in a functional training program. He recommends the slideboard leg curl variation, which is a classic yoga pose called the bridge. At least, it's similar.

Functional training trumps training for form or beauty --- unless that's what you're after. In truth, you won't look like Arnold Schwartznegger used to look unless you take steroids or have the right body type. And washboard abs are a dream for most people --- a dream that can't come true. You might have a flat stomach in your twenties. But that gives way to a more natural belly as you age. That doesn't mean it has to be a fat belly without a strong core, however. That's where functional training is so powerful.

According to the author, "The reality is, hypertrophy for most non-anabolic-using clients is very hard to come by. And one unfortunate problem with hypertrophy training is our concept of how to train for hypertrophy has also been heavily influenced by steroid users.

Hypertrophy may in fact be a function of diet and body type and really have very little to do with training style."

You'll learn a lot in this book. And, while it's written for the professional trainer and athlete, don't let that turn you off if you want to learn about training for function. I learned a lot from it and I'm not trainer or athlete. But I can put what I learned to use today. And so can you.

The book has a short section on terminology used in functional training. It has some suggested resources and an index. All that makes the book a high-quality product.

But, beyond that, there is not one typo, misspelling or grammar error. I say that because good editing is the exception today --- not the rule. Whenever I find a book that is error-free and edited perfectly, I have to mention it, just as I always mention horrible editing.

I highly recommend this well-written book to every coach, trainer and athlete and even to those like myself who train for the main event --- everyday living.

- Susanna K. Hutcheson
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 15, 2010 9:50:26 PM PDT
Like the review. But just to clarify as to why leg extensions are not favored by Boyle (or any good S&C coach for that matter) is because leg extensions are an isolation exercise and completely non-functional when it comes to training athletes. It is not practical to train your body isolating one muscle, in this case the quadriceps, it can confuse the muscle firing sequence and can actually weaken the muscle when used in a functional fashion.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2011 8:44:13 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 19, 2013 2:56:39 PM PST
Scott Rae says:
Regardless of what the reviewer says this book does have its share of errors. Boyle has a trouble distiguishing tenths of seconds from hundredths of a second. He brags that he doesn't have a leg press machine in his facility. Here's a short list of some athletes who have used the leg press in their training: Eric Heiden - 100 reps with 600lbs - five Olympic gold medals; Apolo Ono - single-leg leg press with 800 lbs - eight Olympic medals; Usain Bolt seen on TV doing leg presses during the 2012 Olympic Games coverage --"world's fastest man". Boyle has some interesting ideas, but he doesn't walk on water

Posted on Jul 12, 2013 2:06:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 12, 2013 2:09:42 PM PDT
Good review. Full function, however, is a relative concept. I note that you write: 'You might have a flat stomach in your twenties. But that gives way to a more natural belly as you age.' Well, no, it doesn't. What happens is that if you have a flat stomach in your twenties then your naturally or unnaturally flat stomach may or may not give way to your naturally or unnaturally rounded stomach later as your abdominal muscles and connecting tissues lose tone and the amount of sub-cutaneous and visceral fat in your abdominal region increases.

'Natural' and 'unnatural' don't come into it. Your body shape and composition at any given time and place adapt to the strains and stresses placed upon them. Hence, if you are a postman or postwoman delivering the mail on foot in the foothills of the Himalayas then your body will adapt to the demands of being a postie in that situation. If you are a bus driver then your body will adapt to the demands of being a bus driver. Our body reflects who we are at any given time and place in the sense that who we are at a given time or place reflects what we are, or rather what we do.

The distinction between athlete and non-athlete is primarily a western concept that dates back to Ancient Greece. Before Europeans arrived in Africa, there was no such person as an 'athlete'. Instead, boys and young men, girls and young women used their bodies in accordance with time-honoured traditions: to dance; to run; to throw; to fight; to flirt; to gather; to weave; to collect; to carry and so on. The connection between form and function was seamless.

With time, the human organism will age. No animals, including humans, live forever - not even sea turtles. As the organism ages, function is lost. We still don't know, however, how much of that loss is due to ageing per se, and how much is simply due to the human organism adapting to the reduction in the physical demands on our body most of us experience as we get older.

In other words, if you want to be a competitive athlete when you are in your nineties, then be so. There's no reason in principle why you should not. If you decide, however, in your twenties that your physical goals are less demanding then your body will adapt accordingly. Hence, up to a point, our bodies are, along with our minds and souls, our beliefs and ethics, what we make them.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2014 8:12:13 PM PDT
I heard it puts a lot of stress on the knee and it is not mechanically safe. My Physical Therapist told me so and in fact most PT will not recommend.
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