Demand vs. Function
This paper is based on the foundational principles of the ADAPT Training System
In the Training vs. Performance paper we defined performance and showed how it differed from training. We also touched on the principle that performing a movement which you do not have the abilities to do correctly (i.e. with the ideal muscular function) is dangerous. In this paper we will begin to explore the physiological explanation behind why it is dangerous to do so. Like always we will begin with definitions:
Function is how your body currently works which includes strength, endurance, and range of motion etc.
Demand is what you ask your body to do. This can be anything from skiing, to walking, to jumping off a building, and even taking a gallon of milk from a shelf in the grocery store.
It’s pretty straight forward but to rephrase it, function is you current physical capabilities, while demand is the performance requirement you place on yourself. Have you ever seen someone in the gym doing bicep curls with a barbell? If he can complete the rep with correct form then function is greater than demand.
No matter how strong you are there will always be demands that are greater than your function, and for the most part this isn’t a problem. If you can’t lift the back wheels of your car off the ground this doesn’t matter. However, when demand is greater than function DURING a performance move this is when the problem arises. Think back to the guy in the weight room. He is on his last bicep curl. He doesn’t have the strength left to complete the rep, but instead of letting the weight fall down to his waist he arches his back so that he can pull the weight to his chest. This time demand is greater than function, and because the lifter is performing the movement anyway he is putting his body in a compromised position and is physical vulnerable to injury.
Compromising your body’s integrity is what will cause injuries and that is why ‘Demand vs. Function’ is such an important concept to understand. Additionally when the body is not capable of handling a demand, adding more force will only increases the body’s vulnerability! Nowhere is this more applicable than in Parkour. If you are in the weight room and you have a hard time benching 150 lbs you probably won’t put another 25 on each side and attempt to press it. But in Parkour doubling the demand is sometimes as simple as jumping off the next highest step or ledge! And although it is commonly accepted that your body can and will become stronger and adapt to be able to handle these forces, when the demand is greater than function this is never possible. I’ll repeat this concept because it is so important:
When the demand you place on your body is greater than your functional abilities to handle your body will never learn to correctly handle the forces no matter how many times you attempt the move.
In fact, if you continue to place more demand on your body then it is capable of handling you are only bringing yourself closer and closer to inevitable injury (More on this in “The Biggest Misconception in Parkour Training” article*).
This week I want each of you to take some time out of your training to think about the movements you do during your Parkour workouts. What are the biggest movements you do and/or the ones that have the most demand and require the highest level of function? Are you able to do these moves correctly or does your body “cheat”? To accurately analyze this, you may not even have to look at your most intense moves. You might only have to look at your easiest. Try to do a full squat with your hands behind your head while keeping your heels on the ground. If you can not do this then jumping off any size ledge is not something that your body is capable of handling correctly (Reference “What is Training?” for tips on how to correct vulnerabilities like these).
In any performance where the demand is greater then your functional abilities, performing the movement will put you at serious risk because it compromises the structural integrity of your body. That is because when demand is greater than function, demand will always win. Do not be in a hurry to progress, but instead always train within your means where your function is greater than the physical demand you place on yourself.
*Although we will continue with the weekly articles, this specific article will not be released for a few weeks.