The Function of Less Than “Functional” Movements

By TheBox,

I might be calling out the torches and pitchforks on this one. Believe me, as an advocate of functional movements, I realize exactly what I’m proposing here. Nonetheless, maybe it’s time for more athletes and coaches to look towards some non-functional movements to round out their fitness arsenals. Yes, even CrossFit athletes.

In my own defense, I probably have a strong bias, not only to functional movements, but the boring functional movements. I’m interested in large loads and big bang-for-your-buck movements. When I come to a crossroads that has V-ups to the left and power cleans to the right. Trust me, I go right every single time.

What if I told you that non-functional movements and accessory lifts like banded leg curls, good mornings, hip extensions, leg raises and resistance crunches could be a game changer in your performance. No, I’m not saying these movements are that great, but the reality is that we all have weaknesses. And these über-specific, often non-functional, movements happen to do a great job in filling in the gaps of a deficient athlete.

From personal experience I can attest to the power of some of these elements, I spent six years of collegiate and professional baseball without performing a single deadlift. The first day I ever tried deadlifting, I pulled 500 pounds. It’s a feat that I’d attribute to tens of thousands of hip extensions, banded good mornings and other less-than-functional movements.

Now, I’m not saying biceps curls and hip extensions should replace or even creep into the majority of any athlete’s training regimen. I am, however, saying that if the Chinese and Russians in weightlifting are dominating with a willingness to look into overcoming athletes’ specific weaknesses with such accessory work then maybe we should, too. We don’t need to look beyond our own boarders even. The strongest men and women on earth, at Westside Barbell, utilize non-functional movements like the aforementioned to build strength in deficient areas.

In CrossFit, we’re often quick to bash non-functional movements. I’d encourage you to not be so quick to judge. Are you anteriorly dominant? Where does your front squat fail? If you have better strength in your erectors could you find a better power position in your clean and jerk and snatch? I’d imagine any of these questions would elicit some insight into areas of opportunity for some non-functional assistance work.

Logan Gelbrich
@functionalcoach

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