Lesson learned

 In Uncategorized

(quick reminder: SPINE WORKSHOP this weekend!!)

This blog world is full of people who actually WRITE stuff, important stuff, and network with other blogs with viral efficiency, creating an elaborate web, almost world-wide some would say, of information and darn good reading. But I just post workouts. Perhaps this hot tub has room for one more, thus begins my more detailed blog (and yes, there’s a workout at the end):

Rant and Roll

There are a few terms that are starting to increase in popularity even within the purposely untrendy underground strength community. Although ‘functional‘ should have been buried years ago, there are things being done in the name of functional training that look like bad performance theatre. I’m all for inventive movements, but hiding a jones for being a little freaky by labeling something ‘functional’ isn’t fair. Your one legged overhead squat on a bosu ball while playing a harmonica isn’t functional, it’s interpretive dance.

There isn’t anything more functional than a deadlift, since picking stuff up, whether heavy or not, seems to make up significant parts in our daily movements (if not, I wanna live in your bubble of sloth), or squatting, since getting in and out of that chair or couch should be addressed with proper technique. Then we can go from there, finding ways to keep us alive, upright and constantly mobile sans injury. Then we add in performance enhancement, whether for competitive athletic endeavors or simply kicking ass at life.


In other words, if your training doesn’t have a function, why use it? Therefore, ‘functional training’ seems redundant, unless you’re trying to sell something by implying that there is non-functional training at the other guy’s gym, those meat-headed cromags who can’t balance on a rubber ball as good as you can.

Another word that has acquired the ‘trendy’ label is ‘metabolic.’ It’s the new ‘cardio,’ which 15 years ago was the new ‘aerobic.’ Metabolic sounds more hardcore. Heck, tag -abolic on the end of anything and it takes on some sort of neo-macho sheen. Try it…

“He’s not just my child, he’s kidabolic!

“She’s a literary genius, totally wordabolic!

(it helps if the word is a single syllable and the sentence has an exclamation at the end.)

Metabolic simply means a chemical change at the cellular level which either creates or utilizes energy. This change can be catabolic (no, not ‘hey that’s no normal kitty… he’s catabolic‘) or anabolic, in other words the breakdown of something, like food, into energy, or the use of this energy for growth. Somewhere there’s a chem major having a heart attack at my simple description, but realize that the term is NOT synonymous with exercise, and if you find a definition with the word ‘exercise’ in it, you’re on a bodybuilding or supplement website.

Like the overuse of the word ‘cardio,’ which is simply defined as ‘involving the heart and lungs,’ therefor making ANY exercise ‘cardio,’ Metabolic is thrown around with equal abandon of actual facts. From CrossFit’s famed MetCon program design (‘Metabolic Conditioning’) to a series of groovy videos from Synergy Fitness called Metabolic Core (Synergy Fitness on YouTube) to Scott Abel’s MET (Metabolic Enhancement Training), we need to wave our discerning wands to see through all the new physical culture pop terminology haze. Apparently throwing together a handful of exercises not previously combined in such manner entitles someone to use the word ‘metabolic,’ under the belief that since it is a ‘New’ way of training, it will promote a positive reaction on our otherwise archaic, struggling metabolisms.

Literally, ‘metabolic’ would simply mean something to do with (you guessed it) our metabolism. Sitting in a box for a year with only a manatee carcass and a water faucet for sustenance would also do something to our metabolism, but maybe it is harder to market. Are we supposed to just assume that ‘metabolic’ refers to a POSITIVE change in our cellular chemical reactions? That wouldn’t be entirely correct either, since a lot of processes that might be perceived as negative have to occur before the good stuff starts running the show.

Okay, so ‘metabolic’ might mean the long-term positive overall outcome of training on the metabolism? Okay, then how would that be defined?

Hey, why I am providing the answers? Folks, if you’re marketing yourself through the use of this word, you have some ‘splainin’ to do. Remember, since we can’t teach, learn or achieve what isn’t defined, it would behoove you and your clients to develop a dialog as to why such words exist in your common gym vocabulary. I personally have added ‘Metabolic’ to my Guru Terminology Kit, provided by Dr. Mel Siff many years ago, although it might simply be relegated to my ‘overused useless fitness vernacular’ list instead, once people stop trying to sell it.

kitty-kissing.jpgIt doesn’t get more catabolic than this!
Today’s workout:

Roll out well, then really hit some spine mobility drills. Open them shoulders and hips up.

DE Deadlifts with bands. Go for speed, not load. 12 sets of 2.

Heavy rack pulls. About 110% of dead max. 4 sets of 3.

Squat Rows/buelers. Been too damn long since we’ve done these. Kick the reps up for the squat rows, 15-20 range, but go heavy, low reps for buelers, whatever style you chose (I’m going classic: original buelers).


Squat Rows.

Recent Posts
Showing 5 comments
  • Dan Morgan

    To listen to the trendy vernacular makes me want to smash myself with a hammer

  • ultrafknbd

    I finished the book – twice. Intended or not, I came away from it with an ethereal sensation. Krishnamurti drives me to contemplation; Zinn, informed revolt; LIFT WITH YOUR HEAD, to move – for movement’s sake.

  • chip

    Yikes, having my tome amongst Krishnamurti and Zinn is a bit intimidating. But I might steal that for a testimonial.

    I’m a fan of both, by the way. And thanks for the kudos.

  • chip

    Our new workout:

    The functional metabolic core toning workout:

    Take hammer, hit self. Repeat 3 sets of 8 reps.

pingbacks / trackbacks
  • […] 4)    Point out how today’s modern gurus are experts at stating the obvious with fancy terms.  By vehemently embracing the dernier cri of fitness vocabulary, other so-called gurus are simply trying to usher in the next wave of overused fitness terms, but they’re still currently hip.  It’s not just exercise, it’s ‘biomechanical exercise,’ or better yet, ‘metabolic.’  Speaking out against this bandwagon now lets your denouncement have even greater force, rather than in 5 years when they are ‘exploited’ and ‘diluted’ by mainstream trainers. If you preach now that these terms actually don’t mean anything special, then you can manipulate them to your advantage, stripping so called gurus into naked obsolescence. But if you find that, during step #3 above, you peppered your program with such terms, then you deserve to be stripped of your guru status and embarrassed publicly.  Know Your: Dr. Mel Siff, Frederick Nietzsche. […]

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt