Functional training and confusing consequences |

Functional training and confusing consequences

Nearly everyone has seen it at one time or another; the guy at the gym standing atop a physio-ball on one leg doing overhead presses while jumping off the highest box he can find in between sets. If you inquire about his training methods, you’ll likely receive a long-winded answer regarding “functional training.” Perhaps he will further explain that this type of training confuses the body and elicits further gains. Unfortunately, the last decade or so has brought a new wave of functional training advocates who are often misinformed. Originally, these programs sought a higher level of transferability to life/sport via the use of odd objects, and alternative training environments outside of the traditional gym setting. However, today it has evolved into training programs with poor exercise selection, high risk and sparse results.

How specific?

I am all for training specificity, as I train athletes for a living. That being said, as a strength and conditioning professional I ensure that the methods I implement truly transfer to sport. My job is to provide each athlete with the tools necessary to dominate their sport while staying healthy. I aim to improve strength, speed, power, mobility, endurance and a host of other physiological characteristics. Once I have instructed proper technique, I will absolutely seek to include more sports specific training methods. However, I will never get carried away and confuse myself with a sport coach or believe that I can teach an athlete to be better at their sport than their coach.


One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in regards to programming was the K.I.S.S. principle, standing for “Keep it simple, Stupid.” I’ve witnessed training programs of various champion Olympic level athletes, and every single one of them followed a basic program but executed it to the highest level possible. Every athlete should master fundamentals before seeking complexity. Variation for the sake of thrill or bypassing boredom is no excuse for poor programming. If you don’t understand why you are doing something, how it’s helping you, and at least two progression/regressions, then don’t do it. Don’t be lead to believe that you must adopt every new training method that comes your way simply because somebody touts it as the latest and greatest. Many strength coaches, much smarter than myself, have written basic programs in the past that still work today. Nearly everything in strength and conditioning has been discovered or thought of, all that you need to do is properly apply it. Be smart, train smart, and stay healthy.

Jimmy Pritchard has a B.S. from Colorado Mesa University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the Assistant Strength Coach at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. Pritchard’s passion is to help others meet, and often exceed their goals in all areas of fitness. Contact him at 970-331-3513 or

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