FUNCTIONAL, INTEGRATED, AND SPORT-SPECIFIC TRAINING Before we discuss how we can enhance our performance and prevent injury through crosstraining, let’s make sure we’re speaking the same language. The approach to crosstraining for endurance sports described in this book can be best described as functional, integrated, and sport-specific.
Functional training refers to a focus on improving function. In other words, a functional training program is concerned with trying to prepare an individual for specific physical demands. Such a program is in stark contrast to the type that most bodybuilders follow, which is more aesthetics driven. An example of functional training would be when a physical therapist prescribes exercises for someone who is hurt on the job and is trying to return to work. The therapist would recommend movements that would help prepare muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons for the forces and ranges of motion required by that individual’s occupation.
An integrated training approach is one that trains the nervous system to recruit various joint and trunk stabilizer muscles during movement. As the name implies, the goal is to train muscles in coordination with other muscles so that movement will be more efficient. For example, a single-leg squat could be described as an integrated exercise because it involves the recruitment of various stabilizers of the ankle, knee, hip, and trunk while at the same time strengthening the primary mover muscles of the knee and hip.
Sport-specific training simply refers to a training approach that will in some way benefit an individual’s ability in a particular sport. Sport-specific training can involve the attempt to simulate the movements of the sport such as a basketball player performing a vertical jump. However, sport-specific training can also refer to any strength, power, agility, coordination, stability, flexibility, and energy system training designed to enhance performance in a specific sport. For instance, if a football player wanted to make an interval workout as sport-specific as possible, he would exert himself at the same intensity and for the same duration as he does during a game. He would rest the same amount of time between efforts as occurs during the average huddle and total break in the action.
Integrated, functional, and sport-specific training involves multiplanar, multijoint, and multidimensional movements. This approach to crosstraining is dynamic, progressive, and systematic and continually challenges the nervous system. Training programs of this nature are varied on a regular basis in order to force the body to adapt to differing planes of motion, ranges of motion, type of resistance, body positions, intensities, tempos, durations, sets, repetitions, frequencies, and rest periods.