Visit our archive

Functional Training – the story continues.

This is part 2 of a post about an innocent body that once tried working out.  In part 1, we saw how the bodies brain decided to find out exactly what functional training was so it could sound smarter next time it’s body was working out in the gym.  I mean, that stupid mouth keeps talking about ‘blasting the hammies’, surely there’s got to be ways to sound better than that, right?  At least, as a personal trainer in my early years I felt like an encyclopedia for muscle and fitness quotes – my mouth has gotten smarter since then… the rest of me?  Well, the jury’s still out on that one.

Anyway, moving on to part 2:

Non-traditional Functional Training

If Traditional training is anything you see done on a sit-down exercise machine, then typically non-traditional functional training is anything that ISN’T what you saw on the fancy machines, but happens to have another piece of equipment thrown in without a real rhyme or reason other than it’s not traditional movement.  When you add a bosu ball squat to a dumbbell bicep curl or a fitball to a bench press, that doesn’t necessarily make it ‘functional training’.  It makes it non-traditional.  Which is fine if that’s what you’re going for.  Just know that what you’re doing probably doesn’t have a well-established rationale behind it.  Much like your theory that hanging out near the water cooler will help you meet hotties, because… well, they’ve GOT to drink water sooner or later, don’t they?   I mean, everyone knows that hotties are well hydrated, right?  right? (drinking a 2 gallon jug of water as I type this with the other hand).

Movement Based Functional Training

Yep, I just added that bit to the front of ‘functional training’, because as we already discussed, functional training is for a specific function.  If I want to improve a ‘movement’ then I need to train to either improve that ‘movement’ or train to remove the things that might be stopping that ‘movement’.

 Note:  It’s more often than not that the ‘movement-based functional training’ and the ‘non-traditional get confused…. and that definition is where people/trainers get confused and call something a coach purse, when it’s really just something that looks like coach that you bought from some seedy guy around the corner from the local farmers market.  

And, like functional training, it takes a trained eye to know which is which… but when you see it and you realize it, the reaction of internal disdain and disbelief is quite similar to the purse analogy. 


And now I hear your neurons clicking into place, collectively thinking “ok wise guy, so why should someone even worry about movement-based training?  I mean, isn’t it all the same?  Exercise is exercise, right?”  To which I would say; “very true, collective neurons… but wrap your synapses around this:  When they body moves, it’s training a movement (duh, right?) so what kind of a body do you want?  A body that moves great when it’s stuck inside a machine but looks awesome lying on the beach, or one that takes a little longer to get to awesome but can still play sports and go hiking in the mountains, still stand up tall and walk with grace, still be going strong after all the other bodies have checked out and gone back to the nursing home to watch golden girl re-runs.”

If you’re looking for a quick fix, there is none.  But for the sake of giving you just a taste of the kind of workouts we do at my local studio here in Denver CO (Bonza Bodies Fitness is the name of the place, if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood), I’ll give you a list of movements our personal trainers cover every workout.  It’s not a complete list by any means, but if you can make sure your workout covers these main movement patterns then you’ll be well on your way.


  1. Push horizontally (pushup)
  2. Push vertically (press)
  3. Pull horizontally (row movements)
  4. Pull vertically (lat pulldowns)
  5. Twisting core movements
  6. Squats
  7. Lunge
  8. Step ups

Follow those rules and you’ll be on the road to a functional body that can play.  Of course, it might be beneficial to add ipsilateral, contralateral and single and double appendage loaded movements in three planes of movement, but you’ll just have to come on down to Bonza Bodies Fitness ( and take a class to see what that’s all about 🙂

Yours in health,

Jamie Atlas

Are you in the Denver area?  If you’re interested in coming in to our award winning studio, Bonza Bodies Fitness to see how our personal trainer staff do functional training, feel free to get in touch with us!  Send me an email at to learn more.

  • Ironman Jul 6, 2012 Reply

    Squats, lunges, and horizontal pull downs! (oh my) Squats, lunges, and horizantal pulldowns! (Oh my!) SQUATS, LUNGES, AND HORIZANTAL PULL DOWNS (OH MY!!!) …. You can do all that with a machine jaimesito. And these days they even have such machines in nursing homes… what else you got? (I’m not saying you aren’t more betterer in your techniques or that you are a bad person, I’m just wondering how drastically different your approach is, besides incorporating the word ispilateral. Maybe do a jaimesito the bandito’s unique approach to training for dumbies post)

  • jamieatlas Jul 6, 2012 Reply

    jamiesito the bandito – I like that! I’m totally stealin’ that 🙂 Yeah, you’re right – I should clarify that.
    The difference is that I might be giving someone a movement that fits a functional need, but it’s that you understand WHY you’re giving someone that movement – eg ‘ok mrs johnson, you need to be able to sit down and get up again to be able to operate around your house, so let’s work on squats’. As opposed to ‘erm, the picture in this magazine is of someone squatting, so… lets do that?’ the end result might be the same but the principle behind the application is what I’m trying to (quite poorly) emphasize. Thanks for the comment!

    • Ironman Jul 8, 2012 Reply

      I didn’t think you did it poorly. You are the master at doing what you do. We just want to know all of your secrets. Give them to me.

  • sree Jul 6, 2012 Reply

    Could u give an example for twistiing core movements?

  • Name (Required)

  • Email (Required, but not published)

  • Url (Optional)

  • Comment (Required)