What is FFT, other than an abbreviation for Functional Fitness Training? (part 1)

As FFT has been around for a little over a year and a half, the class structure used has naturally evolved in that time. Before I get into that though, I feel it is only fitting to describe the goals of FFT. I see FFT as a way to develop strong people who can apply their strength in a multitude of situations. This is really just another way of saying “Functional Fitness”. On a practical level, this means being able to move sacks of grain from the ground into a truck bed, shoveling heavy wet snow “for time”, running most of a 5k when you could only walk it before, not pulling a hamstring anymore when softball season comes around after having done so in almost every season prior, or pulling more than your own bodyweight in dead lifts for reps when your chiropractor wants to help you lift your bag when in his office. By the way, those examples are all stories from my clients after following FFT principles.

Before going on I should note that FFT is nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary, just a hodgepodge of programs that have worked for coaches and clients across the globe. Just like anything else, I believe that fitness and health are fields where evidence-based results should reign over anecdotal reports and hypotheses. Don’t get me wrong though, one should never stop thinking and challenging their beliefs as it is only through a complete understanding that you will ultimately be able to be confident in your actions. Just ask some of the FFT regulars how much I talk about the same topics over and over, but always from different angles as I try to poke holes in arguments and ideas. My goal for not only myself, but for my clients as well, is to come to your own conclusions. I am just here to serve as a guide, there is no need to believe what I say blindly.

With all that said, now I want to get into how FFT classes are structured and why they are done this way. Drawing from the first paragraph, I believe that strength is one of the most important parts of any foundation, be it a college athlete or a grandparent. Next to nutrition, which I will certainly have more to say about in future posts, strength just helps everything else. That is why I make the dead lift and the squat the core lifts for FFT classes. Proficiency in these two lifts alone, if you were to do nothing else, I believe would give you such strong base level of strength that most would be satisfied with just that.

As FFT class is currently held three times a week, one to two of those classes are based around either the squat or the dead lift. On those days, we will do a quick warm-up to get the blood flowing and then get right into either the squat or the dead lift. For each of these lifts, four sets will be performed with weights that are calculated to bring out the right intensity within a desired rep range. For example, we shoot for 5 reps on the max effort set (the third set). If at least five reps are done on that set, then that lifter is able to add weight the next time that that lift comes up in class. If five reps are not achieved, then the weight remains the same until you get to five.

After the squat or dead lift sets are done, it is now time for a quick (usually under 10 minutes) met-con (an anaerobic* workout that is usually not tons of fun to do but not one to leave you lifeless on the floor either). The met-con’s purpose is to serve as a conditioning tool as we don’t do any traditional “cardio” during class. My goal is that through three classes a week along with proper diet and recovery, one wouldn’t have to do much outside of class to reach their fitness and health goals, within reason of course. I’m talking more so about being lean and healthy, not olympic level athletes or sport-specific athletes where extra time must be spent practicing particular skill sets.
*think sprints as opposed to jogging

That is all for now. Time to get to bed as sleep is very important, which we will discuss in some future posts.

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