Functional Training Gone Bad


Today I’m going to tell you about one of the sillier ideas I’ve ever had…

About 10 years ago I got interested in functional training and sports specific exercises. I wanted to get away from the Pec Deck and do exercises that more closely mimicked the movements I was using on a daily basis in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo and wrestling.

So I used books, magazines and the web to find sports-specific exercises. Then I’d try them out and see how I felt. Some of those exercises I still use to this day. Once in a while I invented my own exercises. Some of those were good, but others were abject failures….

The ‘inspiration’ behind my dumbest idea came when I noticed that I often ended up on my knees when trying to finish a double leg or single leg takedown. I also observed that quite a few wrestlers would finish from here by lifting their opponents off the ground.

Lifting an opponent off the ground starting from the knees obviously requires strength. “Wouldn’t it be great”, I thought, “if I could simulate this move in my weightlifting.”

So I put on a set of kneepads and loaded up a barbell in the squat cage. I stood straight, squatted down, dropped to one knee, and then knelt down. Then, with the bar still on my shoulders, I got back to a standing position one foot at a time. Basically I was going up and down from a standing to a kneeling position with 225 lbs on my shoulders.

People in the gym were looking at me like I was on crack…

I did about 10 reps, rested a while, and then did a second set. “Good enough for the first day,” I thought. “Maybe I’ll do more reps and sets the next time.”

Maybe it’s not too surprising but the next day my knees ACHED! Not a good, muscular-burn sort of ache, but that stop-doing-this-or-you’ll-be-sorry type of deep joint pain. The pain did eventually go away, but I never did that exercise again.

So the take-home message is that sports-specific training is a good thing, but be very careful when you’re inventing new exercises. Especially when you’re talking about heaving a lot of weight around and/or contorting yourself into awkward positions.

Since then I’ve discovered other ways to train getting-up-from-the-ground movements without compromising the knees. For example, I occasionally do Turkish Get Up (like in the video below) using either kettlebells or dumbells.

You can view the same Turkish Getup video on YouTube by clicking this link!

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