Workout Tips

Get Back in the Box With Your Training

Are leg squats on a BOSU with simultaneous medicine ball chops really necessary?

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Get Back in the Box With Your Training

New Age terminology and catch-phrases of the week grate on my nerves. When I hear people talking about their "Inner Child" or trainers proselytizing about "Functional Training," I unconsciously clench my teeth. The terms may have value, but they tend to be overused and underdeveloped and become fall-back phrases that people rely on all too easily.

Over the last several years, "The Box" has been a focus of attention; whether you're living inside of it and trying to get out of it, or trying not to think in a way that resides within it. Its usage has declined a bit recently, the term having fallen a bit out of vogue, but I still hear people talking about it and it drives me crazy because "The Box" isn't a bad thing. "The Box" is good. In fact, "The Box" is necessary. Let me explain.

In spite of my impatience with the term, I understand and appreciate the context behind the phrase. The meaning, originally, was valid—to encourage people to expand beyond perceived limits, unleash creative thinking, to be unconventional and daring, to risk and be unique. But the perpetual focus on those pursuits increasingly drove people to strive so hard to be unique that the sublime became the ridiculous.

The limits were being pushed further and further, and the ideas became more and more outrageous until anything resembling traditional thinking was considered archaic, outdated and useless. This was evident especially in the fitness field, where it has become common practice for ridiculous workouts to be considered the best. Fitness experts were concerned about this phenomenon years ago when the term Functional Training first came out because trainers started taking the notion of balance and stabilization and combining them with the increasing number of fitness products out there to design absurd training methods.

Do you really need to be able to do a single leg squat on a BOSU while simultaneously doing a diagonal medicine ball chop? No, you don't. But the problem is that trainers began hijacking what was originally a valid concept and layering more and more absurdity on top of it until the term lost its meaning. And to compound the problem, the ridiculous workouts were hard, which made people think they were good. Of course it's hard to do a single leg squat on a BOSU while simultaneiously doing a diagonal medicine ball chop, but is it necessary?

Just because it makes you sweat doesn't make the workout credible. Functional Training originally referred to the notion of doing movement patterns in the gym that replicated real-world movements so that you could become proficient at these movements and avoid risk out there in a three-dimensional world. But unless you're a hockey player, I can't see any reason to do it. It might be cool looking, it might be difficult, but is it really functional?

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