Well first off, let’s define what a functional athlete is. For the purpose of this article, a functional athlete is an athlete that has proficiency across a variety of movement patterns, activities, and energy systems. Functional athletes have optimal strength, power, speed, agility, endurance, mobility, balance and much more and can balance and utilize these components based on their goals and desired results. Tennis players, quarterbacks, running backs, basketball players, volleyball players, soccer players, MMA fighters, decathletes, and many more sports require the athlete to be as functional as possible.
The elite functional male athlete has a very lean and muscular physique. Body fat is often around 10% which makes the athletes muscles defined with visible abdominals and pronounced vasculature. There is definitely a ‘goldilocks’ zone for these athletes physiques to exist in. Too much muscle or body fat will slow them down but too little can compromise strength and power. Luckily, we can look to elite athletes in most sports and see what works best. Notice below how the top male athletes in many sports have almost identical physiques minus height and a point or two of body fat.
Elite female functional athletes carry less muscle and require slightly more body fat but also have a lean and strong physique. Again, look at the similarities in body type and musculature across some of the top female athletes in the world.
We are not reinventing the wheel here. If you want to be the most effective functional athlete possible, you must be as lean and strong as physically possible. I believe that the physique of elite functional athletes is also what we should all strive for with our training goals. This physique is not only the healthiest in terms of longevity but also in energy output. With more energy you feel better and therefore perform better, which just makes life more fun. Feeling better has a compounding effect too because when you feel better, you do more, and when you do more, you look better. This is why I train every MVP client towards this goal unless they specify otherwise. Achieving this physique is the ultimate physical goal and I will explain how to get there in the next article.
There are many exceptions to this rule. Specific positions, like lineman in football, need a physique that doesn’t require all components of fitness as much. A lineman averages 3.5 seconds per play and must focus mainly on power. Shot-putters, powerlifters, bodybuilders, distance runners, and baseball players are examples of athletes that require different physiques to be optimal and should train and look a specific way to become elite. We have modalities for all of these sports and would love to help you achieve your goals whatever they may be.