Functional Training: Build a Better Athlete


Ido Portal once said that athletes reverse engineer when they are training. What does this mean? Is it good or bad?

Jason F.

If you are working on a power athlete for example, you use strength or power work with resistance or weight to improve overall bulk and strength of the muscles and systems. Developing strength is important but it is not what makes a great power athlete. Many times you see an athlete with a great physique leaving you thinking they are going to be amazing at their sport. Then the athlete’s performance is not even close to your prediction of excellence. Why is this? Can we predict athletic performance with aesthetics?

Photo Credit: Yenhoo
Photo Credit: Yenhoon

Sports require a set of skills to be excellent. If those skills are not practiced and perfected, then no matter how much strengthening is done, there will be no mastery of movement. So what can you do as an athlete or a professional working with athletes? Apply the principles of functional training to your sport.

  1. Know the primary movements and muscles involved. Know the common limitations and weaknesses of athletes in that sport.
  2. Master those movements before significant loading is introduced. Repetition is the key.
  3. Stretch your limitations and strengthen your weaknesses.
  4. Be creative. Do multiple sports that require multiple levels of skill. You will develop highly intelligent muscles.

I once heard a comment that stuck with me, “You maybe able to bench press 300 pounds ten times but you can’t bear crawl more than 10 feet without failing.” The strength is only functional in that press movement. Strength training should only be a supplement to training taking a back seat to learning the skills of the sport.

-Rajesh Khemraj

Clinical Fellowship Instructor

The North American Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Therapy

Browse upcoming Manual Therapy Continuing Education Courses

About the Author

Rajesh is a Physical Therapist, who is passionate about health and wellness. He is interested in all aspects of general well being including fitness, nutrition and mindfulness. He continues to learn and grow from the profession he loves.

If this article is helpful to you or you would like to get more information, please do not hesitate to contact him at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s