“Functional” training has gained tremendous momentum over the past decade, earning its very own fitness programming category, and continues to top the American College of Sports Medicine’s coveted annual top ten leading fitness trends in the world.
Functional fitness is a blend of traditional and unconventional training methods, using a variety of different equipment and movements in preparation to perform any physical activity relative to sport, activity, or occupation. While this has remained the same, the training equipment and modalities have evolved.
ENTER UNSTABLE LOAD TRAINING:
“The ability to lift or unconventionally move an odd object or unstable, uneven load efficiently and effectively with the intent of improving functional work capacity & performance.”
Most commonly, this resistance is shifting throughout the exercise, forcing the user to not only focus on primary movers, but synergistically engage smaller fixator and neutralizer muscle groups to stabilize the load in effort to move it effectively through the desired path. Unstable load and odd object training is the single most effective training concept to develop neuromuscular and stability adaptations necessary to perform effectively in competitive, tactical, and/or recreational events.
A key core concept of functional training involves unstable/uneven load exercises and equipment. Unstable load training uses a variety of unconventional equipment such as sandbags in order to simulate real world conditions. The intentional training outcome is to move the resistance effectively, efficiently and precisely. As the load of odd objects such as sandbags shift, joint, muscular, and neuromuscular activities increase as maximum force of prime movers decrease. This is considered “inhibitory post synaptic potential” or the need to produce force in an open environment as well as to stabilize the body as force is exerted, necessary in nearly all of sports and tactical occupations. Again, the goal is to effectively perform the unconventional task at hand, training the body as a fully “functioning” unit, not to simply exert maximum force and isolate individual muscle groups.
Nearly all athletes are required to be functional in their sport or tactical occupation. The expectation is to perform their best under all conditions, including high stress, maximum intensities, and treacherous environments. These athletes can dramatically improve performance and functionality through incorporating unstable/uneven load training within their fitness programming.