Bleeding Disorders Resources

Functional Training
By: Paul Caminiti, Founder and CEO | Team Adrenaline USA  |  July, 2018   |

Since 2007, I have had the privilege to meet with and work for thousands of individuals with the goal of helping them to achieve better levels of health, well-being and physical performance. This privilege is the natural byproduct of owning my own outdoor group fitness company which started in Richmond, Virginia in 2007 called "Team Adrenaline USA."

Having trained people in so many unique settings ranging from a lacrosse team to a group of high school wrestlers for preseason conditioning, to signing a contract to work with a C.P.A. firm to help their employees mitigate stress during the busy late winter early spring tax season, I have witnessed subtle complexities intertwined within the fundamentally simple nature of the "human condition." The people I have personally come across over the years, accompanied by their compelling stories, differing mindsets and diverse backgrounds certainly keeps my work life exciting and ever changing, which is one of the reasons I love what I do! This experience has convinced me that our similarities in being human far outweigh our differences as individuals. This thought brings me to two very distinct conclusions: Firstly, there are no two personal stories (or backgrounds) that are alike. For example, some of my clients' journeys have included serious addiction, life threatening disease states, enduring chronic pain, personal loss, debilitating weight gain, or having to live with the burden of suffocating depression. I have also witnessed people battling poor self-image, mental and physical abuse and low self-esteem. More times than not, these clients all started out with the improper mindset that there was no way out of their condition, or "dilemma," and that their lives would simply never improve; a strong cynicism if you will. In stark contrast, I have also encountered the eternally optimistic type A person; the "hard drivers" and go getters who have achieved fabulous success professionally, personally, and in some cases, athletically. I once even trained an Olympic Gold Medalist and current World Record Holder! These personality types typically hire me to get their "A" game back from a hiatus or, ready themselves for a special occasion or competition.

The second conclusion I have come to is that there is a universal perception that taking care of yourself and exercising properly requires time, a good sum of money, knowledge in what to do and when to do it, or a luxurious gym with some fancy equipment. THIS couldn't be further from the truth, and is the crucial "barrier to entry" excuse I have dismantled time and time again. This second conclusion will be my focus for the balance of this writing.

As of this writing, I am a 51 year-young life long fitness enthusiast. I pride myself on feeling like I still did in my 30's, and plan on keeping that trend alive by consistently taking care of myself and thinking young. It also helps to surround yourself with positive and like-minded people. Growing up in the late 70's and early 80's, I played virtually every sport from soccer to baseball, football, wrestling and tennis until I found my true talent and love; running track! I was fortunate enough to compete at some of the highest levels in national competition in high school and eventually took my running to the Division 1 level for Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey from 1985-1989. It didn't stop there! My post collegiate years included 10 years of competitive mixed martial arts, five full marathons, adventure races across New England, sprint triathlons and over 25 half marathons. The irony of this was that from 1994-2002 I was a commercial fitness equipment distributor responsible for setting up some of the largest health clubs throughout the New York City Area. I say "irony" because personally, I hardly ever used equipment to exercise. I absolutely loved being outdoors with others, getting in a good sweat and elevating my heart rate running through the mountains of Northern New Jersey and naturally working out my body. "Naturally" working my body is what we commonly know today as "functional fitness." Hold on to that thought for a moment.

I didn't know this back then, but all that collective experience personally and professionally was the inspiration for what I'm currently doing today; teaching people that exercise is actually very simple, and you do not need to depend on using equipment, machines, or devices to effectively get in shape and do good for your body and soul. I have always been a firm believer that the body is the most amazing machine on the planet, we just need to know how to listen to it and use it properly. Once you understand the brilliance of its simplicity, your perception of taking care of yourself will change forever, guaranteed! The excuses that you habitually made in the past will simply vanish! I can confidently say this because I have witnessed thousands of transformations in mind and body over these past 11 years, and you can too! Wherever you are, you can exercise your body in a safe, functional format. According to the Mayo Clinic, functional exercise is the ability to "train your muscles to do every day activities safely and efficiently."

Which brings me to another term: whole body strength. Whole body strength is the ability of each of your body's muscle groups to work together as a unit. Think of it like a chain. When each link in a chain is strong, it can perform its function. If even one link is weak, the chain will snap under pressure. Your body is the same way. If you work out with isolation-based exercises like bench presses, you are likely missing muscles that could be weakening your chain. You might not know it right away, but at some point, as you are lifting your child from the floor or grabbing the groceries out of the back seat, something will give. Maybe your lower back will go out, or maybe you'll feel a weird pop in your shoulder.

That's one of the links in your chain snapping.

Whole body strength is so important because it helps prevent these kinds of injuries from happening. When you have this type of strength, you are not over-developed in one area, but have functional strength throughout your entire body.

How do you Develop Whole Body Strength?

You must incorporate whole body exercises.

These are exercises that strengthen the body as a unit. In order to perform them, your body must work as one. Below I have listed some examples of whole body exercises.

Whole Body Exercise #1: Stretch Walk Push Up

This is fantastic for creating whole body strength from your hands to your toes. This exercise was made popular by the late Jack Lalanne. Here's how to perform the stretch walk push up:

Stretch Walk Push up Exercise

Start off in a normal push up position. Walk your hands out so that they are in front of your head about 1-2 feet. Lower yourself down while maintaining a straight spine. As you go you'll be relying upon a lot of shoulder and back strength along with core strength. Press back up.

Coaching Tips:

  1. Keep your abs tight and your spine straight. You don't want to let you pelvis slouch down during this exercise.
  2. If you'd like to make this exercise easier, simply keep your hands close to your head. To make it harder, keep your hands further away from your head.

Whole Body Exercise #2: Wall Walks

This is for developing major strength and mobility in the spine. It is also one of the few bodyweight based exercises that recruit the hamstrings. Here's how to perform wall walks:

Wall Walks Exercise

Stand facing away from a wall with your heels about 1-2 feet away from the wall. Lift your hands above your head and then behind you so they are on the wall. Arch your body and walk your hands down the wall as far as you can. Your pelvis will be sticking out away from the wall as you walk deeper and deeper into the exercise. Once you can't go down any further, walk back up to starting position.

Coaching Tips:

  1. Move slowly. If you don't have much mobility in your spine this can be a very challenging exercise. Over time, your spine will become more flexible and strong which will help with movement.
  2. To make the exercise easier, don't go down as far. As your strength improves you'll be able to go deeper.

Whole Body Exercise #3: Spider Crawl

When performing this, you'll need a little bit of space to move. This exercise improves whole body strength in addition to mobility. As you might have noticed, whole body strength is closely tied to mobility. Here's how to perform the Spider Crawl:

Spider Crawl Exercise

Get down on the ground in a typical push up position. Lower yourself down so your whole body is a few inches from the ground. Walk your right hand up about a foot in front of you. Bring your left leg up about a foot in front of where it was originally placed. Then bring your left hand up about a foot in front of you. Finally, bring your right leg up about a foot in front of where it was originally placed. Continue in the manner. You'll look like a spider as you crawl across the ground. If you run out of space, you can always perform the movement going backward.

Coaching Tips:

  1. If you don't have enough strength to keep your body close to the ground for the full duration of the movement than just come down a little bit. Over time, your mobility and strength will improve and you'll be able to stay lower.
  2. For advanced practitioners out there, feel free to exaggerate the movements and stretch your arms and legs out as far as you can. This will not only make the exercise more challenging but also improve mobility.

In order to build whole body strength, you must work your body as a unit. Isolation exercises will leave weak parts in your chain and eventually lead to injury.

When you incorporate whole body exercises into your workout, you become much stronger. I highly recommend using an equal balance of whole body exercises along with isolation exercises so you prevent injury and build functional strength.

Lastly, I am a big advocate of stair climbing and moving lunges to develop functional strength for your lower body and to strengthen your heart. Simply lunge forward making sure your knee is behind your toes and keep your arms extended directly overhead for additional balance strengthening, or walk up and down your stairs or a staircase for 10 or 15 minutes non-stop. If the stairs and lunges are too much for you, start out first by trying air squats as follows:
Raise your arms straight overhead, feet shoulder width apart, then lower yourself down. Make certain to keep your back straight and your knees in back of your toes. You may also add in a small rotation alternating right, then alternating left at the bottom of the squat for balance and flexibility work.

In summary, move your body every day in functional movements and patterns while elevating your heart rate. Your joints, and heart will thank you for it.

Paul Caminiti Bio

About the Author: Paul Caminiti has been a life-long competitive athlete and fitness enthusiast. His personal accomplishments range from being a former Division 1, 4-year varsity letter winner (400/800 meters) in the Big East conference (Rutgers College) during the late 80's, to having completed 5 full marathons, 25 half marathons, and running 40 miles on his 40th birthday to celebrate the gift of good health! Paul is an avid skier, snowboarder, cyclist and racquet ball player. He has competed in countless 5k road races, sprint distance triathlons, adventure races and has 10 years of competitive mixed martial arts experience.

Paul has always had an enduring passion to stay fit, feel (and think) young, and he shares this gift by motivating and teaching others to live that way, too.

  1. Certified group exercise instructor thru N.E.S.T.A.
  2. CPR/AED Certified by the American Red Cross

The information provided on this website is not medical advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with questions concerning a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking it based on information provided on this website.