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15 Way to Ensure your Training is Actually Functional

Did you catch Wednesdays guest post from Mick Coup?

I decided to publish it as I was actually chatting to Mick online when I should really have been writing a blog, so I stole one of his. The message in his post was spot on though.

Mick may be a self defence coach, but he’s no stranger to the weight room. His principle based approach to his fighting training is also apparent in his strength & conditioning work. It’s probably why we get on so well. We’re often swapping ideas on fight specific fitness as well as more general physical preparation.

One thing we agree on is that most of the current crop of “fitness instructors” are as mislead by the industry they operate in as the clients they train. It’s the reason places like WG-Fit and the growing number of independent gyms are becoming more and more popular.

One of the things that riles Mick and I up are those two little words


In fact it was the centre point of our recent conversation.

So here are a few ways in which you can ensure your training becomes actually functional:

  1. If the word “function” means to “to serve a purpose”, your training must bring you closer to attaining that purpose. If it doesn’t, its non functional.

  2. Using a particular piece of kit does not mean you are training in a functional manner, see point 1.

  3. The absolute basics of Strength, Stamina and Mobility must never be ignored.

  4. No one ever complained about being TOO strong

  5. Strength and Flexibility are two sides of the same coin, neglecting flexibility may lead to becoming muscle bound. Simple training through full ranges of movement on the big compound moves can be enough to prevent this.

  6. Master your bodyweight before hoisting iron. Building a foundation of Push Ups, Squats, Pull Ups, Dips, Jumping, Rolling, Sprinting, Jogging and anything you see kids doing as they play will give you the best foundation to build upon.

Rings Push up
  1. When you do hit the iron, load the movement patterns you were working with just bodyweight.

  2. Think Movements not Muscles. Unless you are a bodybuilder or working out an injury, why isolate? Look at fundamental movement patterns and work to strengthen them. Saying  that, Bicep curls are great for elbow health…..

  3. If we think about movement patterns, then a horizontal push is a big movement. What’s the king of horizontal pressing strength? Why yes, it’s the bench press, so quit the internet arguments and accept that it’s almost impossible to load this pattern to the same extent with any other lift.

  4. Stop trying to replicate sporting actions in the gym, it’s a pointless and potentially detrimental to your performance. Instead load the force vectors of the action.

  5. The best and most functional training is the training that revolves around eliminating your weak areas, doing the things you suck at and redressing imbalances brought about by your primary activities.

Primary activities are the things you train for, such as being strong, fast or really really good looking. Training is a secondary action designed to get you there.

  1. If you enjoy it, do it. Don’t listen to the nay sayers.

  2. Progress only happens in the face of struggle, train like you mean it and keep progressing.

  3. The more experienced you become, the less tools and toys you need.


Dave Hedges

Next Workshop: Kettlebell Lifting Levels 1 & 2 September 8th, 1000 – 1600 At Wild Geese Fitness, Dublin 2 Details HERE.

Kettlebell Instructor Training Certification: October 5th & 6th, 0900 – 1700 both days. Details HERE

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