Episode 50. JC Santana and Functional Training

Apr 3, 2017 | 0 comments

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Show Notes

J.C. Santana joined us to discuss functional training, program design, and some of the myths and biases that exist in the fitness industry. Scott has respected J. C. for a long, long time, having come across his book, The Essence of Program Design, just as Scott was leaving the bodybuilding world.

The Influence of Coaches

  • Scott’s intro led to a discussion of the influence of mentors and coaches. For Scott, it was Bill Pearl, and for J. C. Santana it was Andy Siegal. 14-15 is the crucial time for a coach, noted J. C.
  • Bruce Lee was also a big influence of J.C.
  • Ironically, Scott’s first gym was a powerlifting gym, while J.C. was “raised” by bodybuilders early on, which influenced his wrestling, his fighting, his judo.
  • Both Scott and J.C. believe that fitness is a vehicle for personal growth, and can even be a spiritual endeavour. For Scott, it’s more of a potential — for plenty of people it’s not that, even if it should be. This is J.C.’s next project.


Functional Training

  • What is functional training? Training to allow the body to do what it normally does. Okay, what does it normally do? Locomotion, level changes, push and pull, and rotation. These are J.C.’s four pillars of what the body does, and therefore how you would organize or think about your training.
  • Level changes in two ways, parallel stance (up and down, think two leg squat, RLDLs, etc.), and staggered stance (think anterior reach, single leg squat). Staggered stance is usually used to decelerate and change directions; parallel stance is for things like picking stuff up.
  • J.C. acknowledge the importance of bodybuilding have its place: if you’re a fighter, maybe not, but if you’re an NFL lineman trying to maintain a 350 lb weight, it makes no sense to put you on a stability ball and do acrobatics.
  • For J. C., and integrated approach almost always makes the most sense.
  • Even in sports training, if you want to put on weight, bodybuilding training makes the most sense. E.g., Evander Holyfield hiring Lee Haney to put on raw muscle mass.
  • Scott and J.C. also both acknowledge that traditional bodybuilding training can be very good on the joints, provided exercise selection is sound.
  • J.C. thinks the overhead squat has pretty much no use for functional training.
  • Scott and J.C. also agree about Cross Fit (hint: they don’t like it).
  • Neither of them train to failure any more.
  • The mechanisms of action for bodybuilding and functional training are mutually exclusive, but that doesn’t mean both mechanisms can’t be used in a single program.

Find out more about our guest today,
J.C. Santana:


Functional Training on Amazon

JC Unplugged on Youtube