Foundations of Functional Training


The body is a link system; this link system is referred to as the kinetic chain. Functional training is all about linkage- it is all about how all the parts of the chain work together in harmony to produce smooth efficient patterns of movement. Most conventional academic preparation in Exercise and Movement Science focuses on studying individual muscles based on classical anatomy. This is where the confusion begins as to what is functional movement. First of all we must remember that we do not function in the anatomical position. The anatomical position is static; it provides us with the perspective of mental convenience to arrange of all the individual muscles for ease of study and observation. In many respects learning about individual muscles is easier than learning about movements because it is simpler. In order to truly understand functional training we must get away from the focus on muscles and focus instead on movements. It is important to emphasize that the brain does not recognize individual muscles. It recognizes patterns of movement, which consist of the individual muscles working in harmony to produce movement the desired sport movement.

In over ground movement like running and jumping gravity is a major player. In order to completely understand function we must understand the role that gravity plays. The fact that we live, work and play in a gravitationally enriched environment cannot be denied. Gravity has minimal effect on the body in the anatomical position, but maximum effect on the body in movement. It helps us to load the system. Therefore we must learn to overcome its effects, cheat and even defeat it occasionally. Over reliance on machines for training will give us a false sense of security because they negate some of the effects of gravity. Gravity and its effect must be a prime consideration when designing and implementing a functional training program to prepare the body for the forces that it must overcome.

Always carefully look at he movement that you are trying to enhance. What are the forces involved? What is the dominant plane of motion? Movement occurs in all three planes of motion simultaneously: Sagittal, frontal, and transverse. Therefore it is important to train movement in all three planes. It is imperative to understand the movements and then design the training program accordingly. How does that muscle fit in as a link in the whole kinetic chain?

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.
RT @GreatestQuotes: Your aspirations are your possibilities. - Samuel Johnson - 4 years ago
Vern Gambetta

Latest posts by Vern Gambetta (see all)