Functional Fitness vs. Body Building

A quick internet image search for “functional fitness before and after” and “Body Building will yield pictures that show the results of two very different kinds of training.

The point that I want to drive home here is not the muscle definition but rather the proportions of the athletes depicted here. You will get what you train for and the proportions of the first image are not the results of functional training.

The training done in the first image yields results that match a particular visual aesthetic, but actually interfere with many daily activities. The guy in the first image might be cast in a movie to play the intimidating henchman in an action film, but we all know he would be beaten by the hero, who’s physique will look more like the second image. However, we will still identify the first physique with strength and power.

The truth is that while the first athlete is very strong, his strength is not always the kind of strength that is useful. When we look at the physique of a person that wins strong man competitions, for example, which are all about moving objects from one place to another, pushing pulling, lifting, and so on… we see a very different type of physique emerge:

The man on the left is the winner of a strong man competition, the man on the right is his trainer.

You will note that neither of these men seems to have the definition of the previous photos, though their outlines seem to be more similar to the second one. Both of these men are quite likely to be functionally stronger than the man in the first photo.

The point is, different kinds of training yield different results. Functional training will yield muscle development that is similar to the last photo. The definition shown in the second photo is achievable only through a combination of diet AND exercise rather than one or the other. The first is impressive, but very disproportionate and ultimately rife with dysfunction in terms of movement patterns and long term, pain free health. The career of competitive body builders is only a few years at best, no one can keep up that level of training for long without health consequences.

That is not to to say that they can’t follow the same training model, but training for competition can’t be maintained.

So, what do you want out of your training? Want to look a certain way? Want to be able to interact with the world in a more efficient manner? Want to train so you prevent injury and stave off the degradation that comes with age?

All of these goals require differences in training methodology. 9Fit is all about tailoring specific  training to your body, but we lean towards the last two goals. We want to make people strong in the real world. We train to help clients overcome dysfunction, build a balanced physique and make people durable in the real world.


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