By David Westerman LMT, FAFS
Are we utilizing “authentic” principles of Function when designing our strength and
Is there a special population that might be missing two of the most important bio‐
motor abilities in their training and rehabilitation programs?
As a former collegiate and professional strength and conditioning coach, strength
and power were (and are) the two most emphasized bio‐motor abilities.
Take, for example, the “power clean” in an athletic weight room. This is one of the
most utilized exercises in “power” training. The typical strategy is to put as much
weight on the bar and successfully lift it one to four times. Let’s see if we can use
part of our litmus test of “authentic” strength and power principles to better
understand its carryover to three‐dimensional Function.
Is it threedimensional?
The power clean is a sagittal plane‐dominate
movement. Most activities require three‐dimensional movement in all
muscles and joints.
Is it specific to activity?
Considering most sports and activities have a
horizontal component to load, the power clean is mostly a vertical load.
What is the neural input and range involved?
If the weight is too heavy
and we go through long ranges, we may actually slow down the neural input
which will inhibit our power and strength transfer to activity.
Are we taking advantage of the Transformation Zone?
The fact that
most of our power is utilized at the zone in which a direction is reversed in a
motion needs to be considered (i.e. – plyometrics).
Above are a few key questions that we can use for any population or exercise we
choose to work with.
Typically we associate strength and power with athletes. However, the population
that may need it the most is our senior population. With the baby‐boom explosion,
more and more of this growing population are getting injured and becoming more
sedentary. Consider the following scenario and proposed training / treatment
A 75‐year‐old woman has balance problems when walking.
Through functional assessments, the practitioner finds abdominal muscles
are weak and significantly lack the ability to move in all three planes of
: Position client in a small stride position with the left leg
forward in front of a wall for support and as a target. To create a load in the
abdominals we want to reach with the left shoulder posterior (backward) at
shoulder (height) towards the wall in a short range of motion at a moderate
to fast speed.
This facilitates tri‐plane loading of the abdominals in the
Transformational Zone of walking with an exercise that replicates the
activity, while creating more power that will transform into better strength
of the entire kinetic chain by using a short (safe) range and increased speed.
Whether you seek strength or power, our strategies and exercises need to be based
on “authentic” principles of Function.
Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and be functional)