Thoughts on Functional Path Approach


Training and rehab is more than assembling building blocks. In essence that is the traditional linear mechanistic approach to training. The contemporary functional path approach emphasizes context and builds on relationships between elements of training. Sport Science researcher Roger Enoka put it best, when he said “The function of a muscle depends on the context in which it is activated.” This really is the essence of it. Traditional programs look at individual muscles and then look for exercises that develop those muscles. This is where the disconnect starts. That is fine for body building, but it just does not transfer well to performance. It assumes a direct cause effect relationship which does not exist. The functional path approach seeks to enhance coordination by training muscle synergies through emphasis on pattern s of movement. Historically this explains the success of PNF as developed by Knott and Voss in treating polio victims. Even though some of the positions they used where not highly functional, the key was that the patterns they used were meant to stimulate synergistic recruitment of muscles in patterns that imitated their role in functional activities. So even though I call this a contemporary approach it really is not. Training is about movement, higher level movement is about efficiency Training should reflect this. Finding or even inventing exercises is easy, assembling the exercises into a coherent pattern that emphasis relationships and context is the key. The power clean is a great exercise or is it? It really depends on where, how and when it is used. This is just one example. Once again think about the big picture.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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