Why don’t more runners crosstrain and why don’t weight lifters want to do Functional Fitness?

Why is it that the entire fitness world is not doing Functional Fitness?  Seriously, it is the clearly the best way to be physically fit. The research is undeniable. The benefits are obvious. Anybody who wants to be in good shape to be able to do life’s activities and minimize injuries needs to be functionally fit.  Everybody should be listening to me and needs to be doing this! What am I missing? Why are there so many out there not doing what I teach?

First off…just spend a day with me and you see plenty of people not listening to me. At my job, people lie to me, ignore me, and simply avoid me. At home, my kids (and wife at times) pay no attention to what I feel are the most important ramblings that come out of my mouth. Ok, so fine then. Don’t listen to me. How about all those other folks out there. Physical therapists, full time professional trainers, researchers, physicians. The list goes on. Why not listen to them?

First let’s talk about our audience here. I’m not talking about those that don’t exercise at all. Let’s face it, there are people out there who won’t get off the couch. There are people that are disabled and others that just mentally can’t get into an exercise program. I am not here to preach to them (of course they could care less about what I have to say).  

No we are talking about active folks who feel the need to have an exercise program. Why are there runners who only run? Why are there still weight lifters?  Body builders even? I talked about this in the early chapters of my book, The body that God intended us to USE,” so if you read that, you might already know how I put fitness people into 2 camps for the most part. Weight lifters and runners are 2 totally different folks with 2 totally different perspectives and issues with fitness. For those of you who haven’t heard it before, here are the issues for each group.

Group #1 – Weight lifters or body builders

There is a difference between those two by the way. Body builders are literally trying to build a body they want to have. They are targeting muscles that will enlarge and look good to potential mates/hook-ups, etc. Weight lifters are usually body builders in disguise, but can be those focused on increased strength and are not scultping bodies quite as much as they are trying to be strong. Strength is important, but I will dare say not all all there is to fitness. I know their problem – it is society.

Yes, I blame society and our current popular culture around the world for their problems. Stronger is better…and bigger is better when it comes to body shape. “ohh, you look huge.”  “Look at those biceps.” This is mostly a problem for men. Men want large pecs and biceps in order to…well, you know, attract those they are interested in. Men need to be strong, or at least look strong. And their potential mates (women/men) are to blame more than them.  They want to see men with bulging biceps and pecs. They clamor for it and their eyes widen when a “buff” guy walks by.

To be honest with you, I still struggle with this at times. If my workouts cause my upper body to be a little bigger at times, I like the way it looks. My wife even gets that “wide eyed” look more.

But big pecs and puffed up biceps is not fitness. Big biceps that don’t work in conjuntion with other muscles in the arms, shoulders, and back, are not that useful in comparison to a Functionally Fit person. The problem is t-shirts don’t bulge like they do with a puffed up bicep. Of course, if you don’t do Curls every 24 hours, those muscles shrink.  Why? Because they are not dense, real muscles in comparison to actual strong muscle/neural development that occurs when a person does compound exercises.

So what is the problem for body builders and weight lifters?  In one word – vanity. Sorry, but it is true. Vanity keeps them from Functional Fitness. Why else would you spend up to 3 times more time in a gym that I do in order to look good!

Group #2 – Runners

Again, there are two sorta sub-groups here. There are those that run because they are trying to lose a few pounds and exercise and don’t know how to do anything else. They are simply in the dark, but can easily be brought to the light. I’m not worried about them. With them, it is simply a matter of education and enlightenment. Here I am talking about the real “runners” in the world. You know, those that just have to run all the time. They run tens of miles (or more) a week and enjoy 5k races and marathons. Yes, let’s talk about you folks. I don’t care if you are in a foot coffin, minimalist shoe, or barefoot – you are all the same to me! 

I don’t blame society for these folks’ problems. I blame them!  I blame them on an individual level. Each runner is to blame for his/her own problem. Yes, you heard me! It is your fault, and your fault alone!

Runners are not trying to fit into a societal image. Runners are doing what they do because of their own mental problems.  Oh yeah, the gloves are off. You runners know it to be true. You run because you love it. You know that a 50 mile race is not great for your body, yet you do it anyway. You are addicted and many of you are in denial. Not all of you…I know many runners who know that they should be at least crosstraining a few times a week, but they can’t give up their miles. They have to run. Honestly, I feel sorry for them. I do. There is no group like ARA (addicted runners anonymous) to help them. There is only the few weirdos like me trying to get through to them.

Please keep these folks on in your prayers. Please keep trying to talk to them about using all their muscles (together) so they won’t be in pain in their older years. Help them to save their knees and shoulders and backs. Ever see a runner do Side Lunges for the first time. They can’t walk four days later. Pour creatures.

So do your part. Help educate these large groups in our society. Talk to them about High Intensity Interval Training and compound exercises. Talk to them about muscle/neural connections, and talk to them about the importance of movements versus muscles.

And maybe together we can help them – one buff weight lifter and one ultra runner at a time.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Laurie

    it’s all about balance. both strength and cardio are important, as is flexibility. the problem that i have found is crafting an overall fitness program that treats each aspect or element of fitness with equal value while respecting time-tested conventions of each discipline. so when you are implementing a functional routine to address all areas of fitness, all things being equal, time becomes one of the biggest constraints.

    i propose that these two groups are simply choosing to narrow their fitness focus because of time. in order to be excellent at something, you must dedicate most time to that craft or discipline. so, an athlete is going to put more effort into the sport they are pursuing regardless of whether this method offers the best benefits for their bodies in the long-term. and seriously, most people focus on the short-term rather than the long-term. simple fact.

    that being said, your programs offer an excellent blend for general fitness enthusiasts. the foundation of the programs should be regarded and taken to heart by all athletes since functional fitness is imperative to overall health fitness. but, whether or not they choose to incorporate a more well-rounded routine depends on how great they perceive the opportunity cost to be–something you allude to in your article when you write about the runners. “I know many runners who know that they should be at least crosstraining a few times a week, but they can’t give up their miles.”

    in conclusion, the problem may not be that they do not understand the importance of a functional training program, but it may be that they do not know how to implement a program in terms of time constraints and the pursuit of excellence in their chosen sport.

  2. Kemme Fitness

    Excellent take on it all. I am going to have to have you do all my writing for me in the future! 🙂

    I did try to help the runners anyway with K-Crosstrain, but you are right – they probably run of time because they don’t think they can give up some miles and still get gains. Weight lifters can really save time, but they may have to give up size. That is a tough one to do for many.

    Maybe if people like you and I keep preaching, more people will listen?

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