For the past few months, you’ve seen quite a few variations DB/KB work (Click here to read my blog post about “Unilateral Training”). There’s a name for these controlled tempo movements: “Functional Bodybuilding,” and they serve a purpose!
For some that may seem like a contradiction. You got into functional fitness to get out of the bro world of bi’s and tri’s bodybuilding. Well, let’s find out how strategically adding in some structural and bodybuilding work can not only be super fun but even help your functional fitness improve!
What is Functional Bodybuilding and how does it help me?
Functional Bodybuilding uses bodybuilding principles and controlled methods of movement to help you fulfill your ‘function’. This methodology is beneficial for improved body composition, performance and overall fitness. Keeping the loads lower and increasing the time under tension helps reduce the demand on your CNS, allows you to focus on great movement quality while also helping your body to recover better, and increasing the longevity of your training.
In fact – a lot of our ‘Fitness’ training is built around this concept; focus on muscle endurance & strength endurance with great movement quality. That’s a formula that can last for years of progress – for any level!
Many of us also have areas within our major movements that are weaker, or underdeveloped areas. If we’re having trouble on pull ups, it might make sense to do movements that will compliment and build that movement pattern to increase our upper body pulling strength. Then when we go back to work on our pull ups some more – our base of support has grown so we now have additional musculature in play.
The focus of Functional Bodybuilding is on increasing the base of support through increased time under tension and building strong movement patterns. So what will this look like in your program? The goal is to build a large and balanced base of support for the ‘major’ movement patterns throughout each week. We have 6 ‘major’ patterns: Double Leg Squat (Bilateral), Single Leg Squat (Unilateral), Hinge, Upper Body Pull, Upper Body Push, and Core (stability, flexion, anti-rotation).
Going back to those pull ups, this is what an example might look like. Breaking down upper body pulling into vertical pulling patterns (like classic pull up variations) and horizontal pulling patterns (like row variations). Throughout the week we ensure structural balance like this: if we do a 1 Rep Max Weighted Pull Up early in the week to express our absolute strength, it might make make sense to balance that out with strength endurance Prone Rows for a set of 8-10 reps or Renegade Rows for Muscle Endurance in conditioning (Kind of like we did in that “Alphabet Soup”! Every workout has a purpose).
Focusing on structural balance, building a large base of support, and increasing movement quality for your major movement patterns helps you become truly balanced for any activity, improves your desired body composition, while decreasing the overall load on your CNS leaving you better recovered and prepared to perform!