Functional Fitness? Bah!

 Posted by on 30 March 2013 at 10:00 am  Fitness, SnowCon
Mar 302013

Some evangelists for CrossFit like to talk about the benefits of “functional fitness.” Personally, I see some value in training people how to properly lift heavy weights… but other than that, there’s just strength and skill.

I’ve experienced that first-hand: I did CrossFit for a year, and now I’ve been doing SuperSlow for nearly two years. I’ve seen that I can stack bales of hay, haul 50 pound bags of feed, and ride my very strong half-draft horse just as well doing SuperSlow as I did with CrossFit. Or rather, I can do it better because I’m not nursing a strained rotator cuff or unbearably sore from my workouts.

Recently, I experienced another revealing test of the power of SuperSlow. Until mid-March, I’d not skied or snowboarded all season. At first, the snow was terrible, so I was enjoying riding my horse, rather than hitting the slopes. Later, once the snow came, I was trapped at home with construction workers, supervising a slew of house repairs. I barely managed to escape the house for my weekly SuperSlow appointment; I couldn’t possibly manage to abandon ship for a whole day.

As a result, I skied and snowboarded for the first time in a full year at SnowCon 2013 in mid-March. (Yes, I was rusty!) Then, here’s what I did:

  • Monday: Ski for two hours in powder
  • Tuesday: Snowboard for five hours
  • Wednesday: Snowboard for five hours
  • Thursday: Ski for five hours

I’m a high intermediate/low expert skier, but I’m not experienced in powder. So the two hours on Monday were far more difficult for me than two hours on groomed runs would have been. Also, I’m still a beginner snowboarder, so that requires even more effort from me than skiing.

Guess what? I was mildly sore after Monday, but that gradually disappeared. I was tired after those five hour days, but I was never dangerous: my muscles were responding with full strength to the commands of my brain.

To my mind, that’s genuine functional fitness!

And guess what? Four of the five people in that picture do SuperSlow!

P.S. If you’re a local and you decide to try my SuperSlow gym — now TruFit Health — in south Denver, please tell them that I referred you!

  • David Lewis

    As a counter-point to SS – there’s a tremendous benefit to traditional barbell weight lifting. It allows you to adapt to the kinds of stress you experience in real life – it’s more than just raw strength, it’s technical ability to move with proper posture the way your body needs to move to avoid injury:

    How do I know I can hoist 100lbs on my back – with absolute perfect posture – with minimal risk to my spine and knee tendons? How do I know I can deadlift my piano and move it if necessary, without risk of injury to my back or neck? How do I know I can press heavy boxes over my head without suffering a shoulder injury? How do I know I can climb without doing serious harm to my elbows? Because I do all of these things in the gym week in and week out with sufficiently heavy weights.

    • Diana Hsieh

      I definitely agree with that, David! Doing the O-lifts in CrossFit was useful training for me in learning how to use my hips to get that “explosive” power required on occasion.

      • Tjitze de Boer

        Great, now if I ever write a textbook about philosophy you’ll be Diana the philosopher with the explosive power hips.

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