10 years ago I signed up to a course that completely changed the way I look at being a personal trainer. Once, the first weekend was done I realized that I knew nothing about anything when it came to training a person (more on this on Thursday). Long story short, from then till now I have many “heated debates” on what is a functional workout (I cover this extensively in my podcast The Fitness Oracle).
There are two concepts that are tied to function in every conversation that I have with trainers all of the time. They are:
- Muscle Confusion
In later blog posts I will go into further detail as these are also monster of subjects and I will need a week each for both of them.
The term itself indicates that you have to separate an object from it’s environment and place it by itself (general description). Now with this general translation in mind think about the body as a whole, does any muscle fit this description? NO! Not at all. All muscles in the human body are integrated with each other. The only way to isolate a muscle is to surgically remove from the body. I don’t recommend anyone doing this…
The next term that I want to touch up on is muscle confusion. Again, this term is so misused it really bothers me. The term itself indicates that you can confuse the muscle firing pattern, basically get it to turn on rather than staying off (or vise versa). Can you imagine the damage you can inflict on your body if your muscle doesn’t turn on when it’s supposed to?
OK before I continue with this I need to clear this up a little because there is some confusion on this front (brain confusion, not muscle). Muscle only does two things, turn on and turn off (with varying degrees).
You never want muscle to be off when it’s supposed to be on or you are going to have a really bad day.
So what are we train trying to tell you?
Well that’s simple.
When trainers are talking about isolation we are talking about giving you extra support to teach the muscle group to fire the way we want it to fire.
When we are talking about muscle confusion we are talking about changing the stress input on your nervous system to stimulate change patterns so we can keep you in a state of hypertrophy. I know this may have gone over and above and I apologize for the scientific jargon but it is the best way that I can explain this very complex concept to you.
I hope you can now appreciate the complexity of these two concepts when it comes to function and I know that there may be trainers out there reading this and I am not knocking you or trying to attacking you I am just trying to clear the fog of what we are trying to tell our clients to what comes out of our mouths.