Taking A Look At Mike Boyle’s Functional Continuum

I have recently been reading Mike Boyles new book titled “Functional Training For Sports” 2nd edition and thought I would outline the functional continuum that he presents in the book based on the lower body, upper body and torso.  In the book Mike has created a simple and easy to follow template that looks at the following:

  • Least functional (lying, stabile) –> Most functional (upright positions, stability challenged)
  • Lower body – Knee dominant and hip dominant exercises
  • Upper body focus – Horizontal press, horizontal pull
  • Torso exercises

This is a great simple way to look at how one might look to move themselves along the continuum (either moving towards greater function or less function) depending on what their goal is.   Typically you will see those individuals who are focused on body building (hypertrophy) will be performing less functional exercises that are stable, more isolated in approach, single plane and often involve handling heavier loads compared to those who are looking to perform more functional exercises, usually more complex, involve multi joint, multi plane and challenge range of motion/stability.  So depending on your goal, this template that Mike presents is a nice way to approach the upper body, lower body and torso regions.


Lower Body – Knee Dominant – Least functional to Most functional

  • Leg press –> Machine squat –> Barbell squat –> Rear elevated split squat –> One leg squat


Lower Body – Hip Dominant – Least functional to Most functional

  • Leg curl –> Back extension –> 2 leg SLDL or RDL –> 1 leg SLDL with 2 DB –>  1 leg SLD with 1 DB


Upper Body – Horizontal Press – Least functional to Most functional

  • Machine bench press –> Bench Press –> DB bench press –> Push up –> Stability push up


Upper Body – Horizontal Pull – Least functional to Most functional

  • Machine row –> DB row –> Inverted row –> 1 arm/1 leg row –> 1 arm/2 leg rotational row


Torso – Least functional to Most functional

  • Crunch –> In line 1/2 kneeling lift –> lunge position lift –> Standing lift –> Medicine ball side throw

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.  Heath has an interest in strength and conditioning, exercise prescription and rehabilitation.  Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne CBD and Docklands leading osteopathy clinics.  Appointments can be booked online at http://www.principlefourosteopathy.comor by calling 03 96799290.