Functional Integrated Sports Training

Functional Integrated Sports Fitness Training

Phil Hueston, NASM-PES, IYCA-YFS

Our training system is based the concept of Functional Integrated Sports Training. We view the athletes' body as a single functional unit comprised of numerous interdependent parts. Even the most basic athletic movement requires the coordination of thousands of signals, functions and responses. We believe the best way to improve sports movement is to improve the body's ability to improve these in an integrated fashion.

Typical "sports training" views the athletes' body as a series of muscle systems or groups, training them as such. Even under the best of circumstances in a traditional sports training "program", these "muscle groups" get little or no inter-coordination during a typical workout. Yet this inter-coordination is essential to successful sports performance.

We understand that the athlete's body moves in four basic movement pattern categories and that all sports activity and skill is derived from one or more of these categories. They've been called the four pillars of human movement for good reason:

  1. Ambulation - Walking, jogging, running. Whether we're moving forward in a straight line, backpedalling or moving side to side, it's ambulation. Directionality will vary based on necessity. Intensity (speed, power) will vary based on intent of movement application and the sports-specific purpose involved.

    Sprinting has a different neural and muscular patterning than shuffling; backpedaling has different patterning and requirements than stopping and cutting. While improvement of ambulation skills and abilities involves the same general systems regardless of speed and power application, it should be noted that higher intensities (speeds and power) require a higher level of neuro-muscular control and output.
  2. Level changes - Reaching overhead, reaching down, lowering the center of gravity, gettting onto and off of the ground/floor and raising the center of gravity are all examples of this essential movement pattern. Lunging and squatting certainly represent this well. Since running is a rapid-fire version of lunging, it benefits the athlete to pay close attention to developing proper and effective form in this essential movement pattern.

    Pushing the body off the ground and lowering it to the ground efficiently are also athletic skills often poorly instructed or overlooked entirely. Bench pressing DOES NOT prepare the athlete for the eventuality of falling down (or being knocked down) and having to get back up quickly. Gravity effects the falling body and our ability to control it in much different ways than a barbell making a controlled descent to the bottom of a bench press.

    When we jump, we raise the center of gravity rapidly and dynamically. Our descent back to the ground creates the need for a unique deceleration and control system similar to, but unique from, that used in other decelerative movements.
  3. Pushing and pulling - These movements provide a basis for many sports skills and activities. In contact sports, the use of a pushing movement is fairly obvious. However, some less brutish activities are variants of these patterns as well. Shooting a basketball is a pushing pattern (which often occurs at the peak of a jump (level change). Shots in hockey, lacrosse and tennis require a unique bi-lateral, oppositional combination of pushing and pulling in order to be effective.

    Throwing movements are complex push-pull variants as well. In soccer, passes and shooting are a fascinating version of a lower body push-pull combination. Swimming provides a unique look at how pushing and pulling work in opposition, yet together, to produce movement through the water.

  4. Rotation - The most basic and essential rotation movement we perform is walking. Upper and lower body rotates and counter-rotates to produce efficient walking, running and spriting movements. Rotation can be easily identified in, and connected with, multiple sports skills and movement patterns.

    Throwing a ball, shooting in hockey, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, racket strokes in tennis and spikes in volleyball each have their basis for power in the ability to rotate (and manage counter-rotation) powerfully and efficiently. In softball and baseball, rotational power may be the single most important physical skill necessary for solid and consistent hitting ability. In swimming, the need for the ability to control excess rotation of the body while applying rotation through the body is truly unique

"Sport-specific training" is virtually worthless when the athletes' body has been trained incorrectly. That's why we employ a highly effective Training Continuum to help our athletes enjoy the best possible sports performance. This continuum addresses three basic concepts of body development:

1.      Stabilization - This concept addresses problems within the athletes' kinetic chain and dramatically increases stabilization strength and neuromuscular efficiency. Stability training positively impacts the athletes' ability to resist minor joint injuries, like ankle sprains, and improves starting, stopping and lateral movement skills.

2.      Strength - Emphasis is placed on dynamic joint stabilization, stabilization endurance and improved intra- and inter-muscular coordination. The athlete will improve the ability to produce force against resistance in a dynamic, ever-changing environment. Traditional "sports training" increases strength against resistance in narrow, non-functional ways. Shedding tacklers and blockers is very different from lying down and bench pressing! Exploding through defenders to shoot a basketball is very different from simply performing a barbell squat! Our systems are unique in their ability to address these differences!

3.      Power - Simply put, power is the athletes' ability to exert the greatest possible degree of force in the shortest amount of time. The speed with which muscles can exert force, and repeat that exertion, is dictated by the neuromuscular system. Traditional "sports training" systems actually reduce the athletes' ability to repeatedly produce power! This happens as a result of an emphasis on maximal strength and "endurance" training!

So what are we saying? Simply this: traditional "sports training" programs make athletes less powerful, slower and make them more prone to injury. Our system creates faster, stronger, more durable, more agile, more explosive and healthier athletes...period!

Consider this: how often does an athlete lay on his/her back and push dead weight off the chest during an athletic contest? The answer: NEVER! Yet, this describes one of the staples of a traditional "sports training" program, the bench press! What does a bench press really do? Here's a list:

1. Creates dysfunctions in the shoulder complex, leading to altered posture and injury.

2. Negatively effects rotator cuff function, preventing normal shoulder movement.

3. Weakens the muscles of the mid and upper back.

4. May damage lumbar spinal muscles, due to back arching during execution.

5. Alters and damages connective tissue in the wrist and elbow.

Still want to get on the bench? Didn't think so!

Our training methods provide the strength that athletes need, while virtually eliminating the risk of non-contact injury! Bodyweight, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, bands, tubes, speed training tools and cutting-edge, scientifically rational training programs...that's how we get it done!

Contact us today for a 14 day trial! See for yourself why so many athletes, parents and coaches call the Athlete Underground their Sports Fitness home!