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S & C coaches strive to make their athletes bigger, stronger, faster. Athletes want to be bigger, stronger, faster. Coaches want their athletes bigger, stronger, faster. As we focus more and more on movement dysfunction, corrective exercise, & functional training are we throwing out the “baby with the bath water” and ignoring the function of making an athlete bigger?
If we look at the traits we would like to see in an athlete – strength, power, agility, speed, mobility, endurance where does size fit in? What is the function of hypertrophy in an athlete? Or, put another way is focusing on aesthetics always the opposite of the modern functional approach?
A catcher – like Buster Posey – need armour to defend himself from collisions and prevent injury.
While multi-joint exercises like squats, lunges, cleans, bench presses, deadlifts, etc are very functional movements and wise to assess and train perhaps it is premature to abandon isolation exercises. The argument for de-emphasizing such isolation, muscle specific exercises is very powerful indeed. It has been trumpeted by Lewit, Janda, Cook, and even from modern sportsmen themselves such as Laird Hamiton! We all know the historical neurophysiology quote “the brain thinks in terms of movement not individual muscles.”
“Usually, working out is about aesthetics — six- pack abs and biceps and pecs — instead of true functionality. True function has a different aesthetic appeal.” Laird Hamilton
But, can you imagine a football player, boxer, hockey player or baseball catcher not having sufficient body armour trained through years of isolated muscle training to build hypertrophied muscles?
It may be wise to maintain balance in our training. As Mike Nelson, PT says in a recent T-Nation article, “People need to be focused on performance first and foremost, even if the goal is purely hypertrophy.”