Choosing Between General and Functional Strength

Q: Within the year, when is a good time to switch between functional and general strength training, or visa versa? Would you recommend one over the other?

A: CXC Academy is offering two strength training programs. Each month you’ll have the option to pick which plan to follow based on your time and training goals.

Our “General Strength” training plan is a targeted strength program that is easy to execute. It’s specifically designed for those with busy schedules to hit the ground running and maximize the effectiveness of your training time.

Our “Functional Strength” training plan is a deeper dive into the philosophy of strength training. Using over 30 years of experience Coach Steve Myrland focuses on the importance of human kinetic chains functioning in all three planes of motion. This training plan will require more time, and patience, as we break down and master new techniques. But with more effort comes more reward. At the end of this training routine you’ll have a rock solid foundation, both physically and mentally, to achieve your race goals.

The first thing to consider is that a body functions as chain where each link must be fully connected to the links on either side of it and proper tension is created and maintained. A chain cannot function with out tension. (Try pushing one!)

A simple answer would be that functional strength and general strength should be looked at as being complementary to each other and not necessarily being mutually exclusive.

They can both be used at the same time during the year. It also depends upon what general strength you are doing. If you are doing a light “circuit” style strength workouts, this can be looked at as a foundation for other phases of strength training, like a period of max strength, when you are ready to tolerate it, or as a maintenance strength workout in the winter. A bigger question is how is your body responding to each type of strength training and how is it benefitting you?  

Put another way, 8 weeks at the start of the training year is a good time to practice lighter strength training to lay a foundation for harder strength training in more intense times of training during the dryland season. Then, as an athlete phases into the race season, strength training loads should be dropped down and strength should shift to a focus of maintenance gains made during harder strength training.

Human kinetic chains must be fully functional in three planes of motion. Since bodies live—always—in all three planes simultaneously, it is essential that we be wholly adaptable in all three, instead of wholly adapted in one.

Q: Within the year, when is a good time to switch between functional and general strength training, or vice versa? Would you recommend one over the other? Answered by Andrew Musgrave