Posted On 31 Jan 2019
A word that gets thrown around a lot at the moment when it comes to training is ‘functional’. What is ‘functional’? Well essentially, this term refers to the idea that some types of exercises provide real-world and usable strength, whereas others do not.
One of the exercises often called functional is the deadlift because it involves squatting down to pick something heavy up off of the ground using all the muscles in the leg in unison as well as muscles in the back.
We pick things up off the floor all the time in real life and every moment is compound in this sense – meaning that we use all the muscles together rather than in an isolated fashion.
An exercise that isn’t functional is the bicep curl. Or at least that’s how the story goes.
Except that’s not quite true in reality. Because in the wild, how often would you actually be required to pick up a perfectly cylindrical bar with the perfect technique from standing? Never.
The only times we’d have lifted things in the wild it would have been the carcass of our prey or a boulder we intended to use. The rest of the time our muscles were used for running and climbing and fighting.
And guess what? We never used the correct technique. We’d have grabbed things off the ground at an angle and landed awkwardly. And we’d always have gotten back up. What’s more is that we’d never have done the precise same movement more than once. Every time we picked up something, we’d have been at a different angle and the item would have been differently shaped. And this is why training outdoors with bodyweight is the perfect solution.
How to Keep Challenging Your Body
As soon as you move a press up from indoors to outdoors it becomes more difficult. Suddenly you’re training on uneven terrain and one hand will be slightly higher than the other. At the same time, you’ll be training in the cold and your lungs will be working harder to supply oxygen.
The same goes double for doing a pull up from a tree branch. Every branch is a different width, meaning you have to use different amounts of grip strength and one hand will always be higher than the other.
You can make this tougher too by lifting logs and doing other non-bodyweight exercises.
But to start with, your usual bodyweight routine moved outdoors is more than enough. And this alone will be enough to start building up a lot more toughness and resilience in your muscles, as well as much more useable strength and power.
And once you start doing this enough, you’ll find that you quickly become much hardier and everyday tasks start to feel a lot easier and less challenging.
Sure, it won’t feel very nice at first and you’ll get muddy and cold. But that’s the point! It’s time to stop being domesticated and to get a little wild!