For the record, I’m not sure if you can effectively argue that any movement is non-functional.
Functional movement is definitely a popular buzz term in the fitness industry. It’s purpose is to appeal the consumer that it needs more carry over into their real world, as anything other is just a waste of time; squat so you can get off the toilet when you’re older; deadlift so you can pick up your groceries; thrust so you can, well, have some sex (perhaps more of a combo of the three above). They’re commonly referred to as the movements that mimic such in real life situations, and use multiple joints and tissues to perform. Functional movements for the win, yay life. What is a non or not-so functional movement then?
Movement as a root though requires function in the first place.
Without well functioning equipment, we may have some trouble performing these “functional movements”. We’ve all had that first exposure to a new exercise or demand in our life that you feel you could have done better if; if only you had more flexibility, or you weren’t so old, or young, or knew more, or was born with god-graced genetics; maybe if you hadn’t eaten that burrito 20 minutes before. Equipment failure, biological or mechanical, has made that a less than functional movement.
You have said movement you need/want to do. We need to create function for you do do that.
We don’t need to redefine what functionals movements are, or how biomechanically superior they are in a program. Define them however you choose, just make sure you have the equipment to do it, successfully. If we go by the definition that includes compound exercises like squatting and deadlifting, then perhaps we should be aiming our attention at the not-so functional movements.
As per usual what follows is another media plug for CARs (controlled articular rotations). But let’s also consider the likes of biceps curls, which I might have you know helped many elbow injuries, and has been getting people jacked for the beach for decades. Or even the elusive calf raise, which has built the stunning grace and strength of ballerina ankles, and defined many sexy calves through the centuries; and that area was pretty much considered whore-ish back in the 1800’s. The point being, they have a means of ensuring the independent function of a joint. And the kicker is you might enhance the aesthetic aspect of it.
Joints should function well independently before they can function well inter-dependently.
These isolated movements, with the right intent, just may be the not-so functional, functional solution to your real life. The foundation to your training, and this real life of yours is in you maintaining the independent function of your equipment. You can often focus on less, which can help you focus more intently on what you're doing. They enhance your connection to the area, your understanding, and your control. They all add up to the sexy stuff you want to be doing.
Consider the following:
For warm ups…
Practicing squats, running, and mimicking weightlifting drills might be useful, but we’ll probably cover that in a coach led skill portion of a class, or in your individual program. Get your core temperature up and move those joints around in a controlled manner. It can be a great means of taking some brief inventory beforehand. Break it down. You need a spine, two hips, two knees, and two ankles, before you have one squat.
Compound movements are great bang for buck exercises, but isolated accessory work is king in keeping you on point, and you may not have warmed up that much. Note what you can accomplish in between sets and after the main body of work is done. Our class program and your coach may prescribe some more isolated work for you during this time as it will improve function during or after.
Movement is an expression of function.
CARs every day. Curls for the girls. It’s the little things you later realize were the big things.
Emile Maxwell Connaughton