Excel Formula To Give Me The Monday Of Current Week The Functional Training Craze

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The Functional Training Craze

Over the last few years I have seen a huge change in the fitness industry. More and more people are using functional training, and some argue that this is the only way of training. The purpose of this article is to give people an understanding of what functional training is, and what it does and doesn’t do.

First, let’s look at what a functional actually is.

Func.tion.al 1. Capable of operating or functioning, 2. Capable of serving a purpose (Webster’s Encyclopedia 2nd Edition, 1996)

Based on that definition, you can draw several conclusions about what functional is. Depending on who you ask, you’ll likely get a variety of responses to what is functional. All human movement is a combination of different actions. Human movement cannot occur without muscle action. According to functional training “experts,” functional training uses bands, balls, free-weights, and plyometric exercises in an attempt to condition the body in an unstable environment. Many experts feel that exercises that mimic activities or specific skills are the most effective way to train, regardless of the goal.

What is the safest, most effective and efficient way to optimize human performance?

Factors Affecting Human Performance

To maximize human performance, you must have a good understanding of what affects performance. The factors that play the biggest role in performance are: strength (power and speed), agility (flexibility/mobility/stability), cardiovascular and respiratory conditioning, sportsmanship (neuromuscular coordination and efficiency), and genetic potential.

Let’s look at each factor and determine which training methods are going to provide the optimal results. By optimal results, I mean the greatest amount of improvement, with the least amount of risk, and in the shortest amount of time.


Power = force x distance

the time

Power can be increased in three ways.

1. Increase strength (power)

What is the most effective method of increasing strength and/or muscle tissue? In my opinion, high intensity strength training is the most productive, safe, and time efficient approach available. I’m not saying that one set of every exercise is the best choice. My definition of high intensity training is: training to transient muscle failure, with short and infrequent workouts in which all variables are determined based on the individual: goal, age, current fitness level, fiber type, personal preference, and past experience.

The purpose of strength training is to increase strength and lean body mass, not to train a specific skill or movement – that’s called practice! People train for many reasons and there are many ways to work out. Over the years, many coaches and trainers have had their clients and athletes perform the Olympic lifts because they feel it will transfer to their performance of skills. Several studies have shown that neurological transfer of skills is not optimal unless the skill is practiced precisely in competition. Therefore, the performance power is clean because you are not optimal to play football. Performing power-cleans will make you better at performing power-cleans! Focus on increasing strength and lean body mass, and practice your skills as performed during competition.

2. Increase speed

Speeding up a skill is another great way to improve strength. Speed ​​is primarily determined by an individual’s genetic makeup. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve speed by practicing the exact skills that are performed in competition. Much attention should be paid to technical theory. By practicing skills in this way, you will improve neuromuscular efficiency, which will result in faster and more accurate performance.

3. Increase distance (flexibility/range of motion)

Increasing flexibility is another way to improve strength. By increasing flexibility, you increase the distance the force is applied which results in an increase in strength.

The safest and most effective method for increasing flexibility is by performing full range of motion exercises and incorporating a sound stretching routine.


Improving your agility is another way to optimize performance. Agility exercises should be specific to the activity or event. For example, Plyometric jumping off boxes is not exclusive to someone who plays basketball! Yes, a basketball player jumps, but not out of the box. Practicing an athlete jumping off the floor will be very specific to their sport. Always ask yourself, “What is the goal?” “Will what I’m doing give me the results I want?” “Is it optimal?”

Cardiovascular and respiratory conditioning

Increased cardio/respiratory output and endurance is another factor that greatly impacts performance. This topic is so important that it is beyond the scope of this article. In general, if you increase a person’s cardiac and respiratory output and endurance, there will be a corresponding increase in performance. Cardiovascular training should also be tailored specifically to individuals in a metabolic pathway to improve conditioning as they compete or perform. For example, a person who plays tennis should train primarily at a slow to moderate pace and incorporate bursts of high-intensity effort. Interval training would be a good option for this person. Keep training specific to the individual.


This is an area where there is a lot of confusion among many players, coaches and trainers. Skill acquisition and strength level are two completely different things. Therefore, they must be trained separately, and with different methods. To optimize the performance of a particular skill or movement, it is necessary to practice exactly as performed in competition. It has been shown that each activity or movement has its own neuromuscular pathway, and just because the movement is the same does not mean there will be positive transfer or carryover of skills. To maximize performance one must strive to perfect a movement or skill with endless hours of practice. The goal of practice should be to improve technique, accuracy, and the speed at which the skill can be performed. This topic was previously addressed in the section titled “Increase Strength.”

Genetic potential

This is the factor that I have found to have the greatest impact on human performance. Genetic potential is something that many people overlook. No matter what methods of training I use, I will never become a world-class marathoner. I can train twice a week or train 5 hours a day, it still doesn’t change the fact that my body was not designed to excel at endurance activities. I have heard of many coaches and trainers saying that people follow dangerous training programs in an attempt to drastically improve their performance. That doesn’t mean you can’t improve performance. When training yourself or a competitive athlete, always set realistic goals. As mentioned above, the best thing to do is to use the most effective methods available and work hard!

Difference between functional training and machine based training

Most, if not all so-called functional exercises, fail to supply constant and variable resistance. Most quality machines supply constant tension and variable resistance based on the strength curve of a particular muscle, and track proper joint function.

For example, compare a dumbbell bicep curl on a Swiss ball to a bicep curl on a quality machine (like Hammer Strength.) When performing a dumbbell curl, there is no stress on the biceps in the bottom or top positions. Resistance is greatest when the dumbbell is perpendicular to the floor. The amount of stimulus is also reduced because the person has to balance his/her self on the force. When using the machine, there is constant tension on the biceps and the amount of tension varies during the exercise based on the strength curve of the biceps muscle. What makes a person stronger? Which is going to stimulate more muscle fibers in the biceps?

In my opinion, machine based training is much better if the goal is to increase strength, and/or muscle tissue. Keep in mind that more muscles equals a faster, stronger, and better athlete, provided they practice their specific skill or movement.

This is not to say that functional practices serve no purpose. The benefits of functional exercise are; Just not as some people are led to believe. Exercise selection and training methods used should be based on the individual’s goals. Examples where functional training may be effective would be in individuals who need to improve balance, stability, and neuromuscular coordination. Below is a chart that shows the difference between functional training and machine based training.

Machine Based Training

Functional training

Provides constant and variable resistance

Movement tracks proper joint function

Effectively overloads the muscle (if used properly)

Safe to perform

There are many machines available to work every muscle in the body

Very effective in improving balance, stability, and coordination

Does not effectively overload the muscles

Does not provide optimal transfer of skill performance

Very difficult to measure and monitor progress

High chance of injury


Functional training clearly has some benefits, and can be a great addition to a well-designed strength program. However, I personally feel that it should never take the place of a structured strength training routine. I recommend using a combination approach, which uses machines, free-weights, body weight, balls, bands, and anything else that is going to provide the desired results. Always remember that training for strength and/or growth in muscle tissue and training for skill are two completely different things. The following questions should be asked when designing or evaluating a training program. What is the goal? Is it time efficient? Is it safe? Is it delivering the desired results? Is it optimal?


  1. Schmidt, R. A: Motor learning and performance – from principles to practice. Human Kinetics Books; Champaign, IL 1991
  2. Bryzcki, Matt: A Practical Approach to Strength Training, Masters Press; In Indianapolis, 1995
  3. Magil, R: Motor Learning – Concepts and Applications, 4th Edition, c. Brown Publishing, Madison, Wisconsin 1993
  4. Czech, Paul: What is functional exercise? (article), CHEK Institute
  5. Calais-Germaine, Blandine: Anatomy of Movement, Easterland Press, Seattle, WA 1993
  6. Tortora, Gerard, Jay: Principles of Human Anatomy, 5th Edition, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY 1989
  7. Stein, Alan: Improving Athletic Power (article), Hard Training Newsletter
  8. Manny, Ken: Skill Development: An Open and Shut Case (article) www.naturalstrength.com
  9. Kielbaso, Jim: Plyos – My Story (article) www.cyberpump.com

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