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“It’s Functional Training”- Usually what a trainer says to you so you will perform circus tricks

Posted on September 22nd, 2012 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.

Functional training along with core/stability training are common buzz words in the personal training/fitness industry. Regrettably, like many things in this industry (do I sound jaded?), it sounds good but how it is usually applied is silly. Additionally, there is a lack of quality evidence for much of what is said regarding these aspects of training. I am not going to dive into the research at this time. However, I do strongly encourage any trainer or exercise professional to read the research (see below for my recommended readings) before you have people perform circus tricks. My main point is that for the majority of people who want to look and feel better (most people really want the looking better part, which usually means losing a good amount of fat, and will take the feeling better part if it comes along with the first part), there is no physiological need to stand on a BOSU ball or any other unstable surface in order to lose fat and/or function better in daily life. For a nice short piece on the subject click here.

What spurred me to write this short post is the following video that Matt had found recently. We found it very amusing. I thought I would pass it along.

Papers I found interesting regarding functional/core/stability stuff:

SEARCHING FOR STABILITY: The efficacy of unstable training – Posted by Steve Magness @

Zech et al (2010). Balance Training for Neuromuscular Control and Performance Enhancement: A Systematic Review. J Athletic Training; 45(4):392–403

Behm, et al (2010). CSEP-Position Stand: The use of instability training to train the core in athletic and non-athletic conditioning. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab

Lederman (2010). The myth of core stability. J Bodywork Movement Therapies


Fisher et al (2011). Evidence-based resistance training recommendations. Med Sport 15 (3): 147-162,



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12 Responses to ““It’s Functional Training”- Usually what a trainer says to you so you will perform circus tricks”

  1. Douglas says:


    Are you telling me that I’ve wasted my time doing 1-leg overhead squats off of a stability ball???

    • Jeff Thiboutot M.S. says:

      Hey Doug,
      Not if you are training for a spot on the Cirque du Soleil team. LOL
      thanks for commenting

      • Dash says:

        An answer from an expert! Thanks for conuiibttrng.

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  2. Scott says:

    That ball squat, third picture, looks extremely dangerous. It makes me cringe like those worlds dumbest videos. Love ur blog. EBT is what all therapies strive for today, not just “clinical expertise”.

  3. RedNeckJiuJitsu says:

    Glad to see another site not putting up with the BS from the fitness industry. I’ve gotten a laugh out of that stability stuff for awhile (although rope/ring pushups and 1 arm rows/presses make good accessory work). Sharing this page with the S&C forum.

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