Fitness Post – Bodybuilding versus Functional Exercises 

I have touched on this concept in other posts but here I want to cover the specific reasons as to why most people who do resistance exercises should stick to a program that uses functional movements as compared with a bodybuilding routine.

Firstly I would like to state that bodybuilding is a specific sport and I admire the training ethic of such athletes as they strive for perfection but their exercises are specifically designed to develop muscle size with no thought of functionality. I would also like to state that as an Olympic Weighlifter I wasn’t looking at the health aspect about what I was doing either…just aiming at lifting the maximum amount of weight in the two Olympic lifts. Now in my mid-sixties and throughout most of my adult life I have had to wear the consequences of that choice. One of my elbows doesn’t fully straighten and I had a nearly complete Quadiceps Tendon tear and I have injured most of my major joints like most Strength athletes…so I know from experience.

So what are the main differences between Bodybuilding and Functional exercises?

  • Bodybuilding exercises generally isolate specific muscle groups as compared with functional exercises that work many muscles throughout the total kinetic chains of the body in a coordinated fashion.
  • Bodybuilding exercises place a greater strain on specific joints because of the reason above…that they isolate specific muscle groups…this is not to say that some bodybuilding exercises don’t work most of the body. Here I mean exercises such as the Squat, Deadlift Bench Press exercises work a lot of muscles at once but bodybuilding tends to work muscles of a specific area of the body (such as chest, back, legs and arms). 
  • Functionality is compromised when you isolate the body in specific areas because there is no major crossover effect into everyday movements or movements for gross motor sports…where the whole body is used in coordinated movements. 
  • Because of their training regimens, bodybuilders generally live in a ‘sea of pain’ – both because of the types of exercises they do and the design of their routine. This includes the very strict eating regime which is not designed for health in mind but for the results they attain when they compete in their sport.
  • Allied to the point above about eating regimes a lot of the ‘food’ that bodybuilders consume is manufactured…so not natural and this has major consequences for their health – both in the long and short terms…and I’m not going to go into the drugs a huge percentage of them consume here, which further compromises health.
  • The other point in that paragraph above is that the body doesn’t get injured if you have normal blood flow, normal nerve function and your technique is not compromised through most always exercising in a isolated way. May I even contend here that there are no such injuries as repetitive strain injuries! I say this because of the reasons I stated in the first sentence of this paragraph. That is: if you eat a diet that contains a variety of natural foods your blood will have normal flow to all your joints; that if you have normal motor patterns in your movements you are less likely to impinge nerves which can effect normal function all along the kinetic chains and your technique of moving doesn’t change from the normal. Of course you have to ensure that your movements are normal but that’s another story.

So the key to staying healthy doesn’t change. Stick to functionally correct movements, ensure that you don’t live with psychological stress (as that boils down to how you deal with the normal ups and downs of life and life is mostly how complicated you desire to make it) and eat a variety of natural foods in moderation. And these principles will never change …in my reality anyway…

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