Welcome to Functional Strength
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My wife, Stacy, and I created Functional Strength to provide a trusted training resource to help folks at all stages of their journey make progress and achieve new levels of success. Whether you're a stone-cold beginner or an advanced trainee, we’re here for you.
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Meet the "Iron Monk"
I have been in the iron game for over 55 years as an athlete, coach and writer. As a young lifter I met and watched some of the greatest lifters in the world. I learned the strength strategies of these men and have used them to make gains for myself and others over the last 50 years. This strength and power tradecraft came from master lifters whose only allegiance was to progress. These ultra-basic strength strategies serve as the foundation for the training I champion and represent to this day.
I immersed myself into two parallel athletic universes mentoring under both Hugh Cassidy and Robert Smith. This immersion led to profound athletic and writing lessons. Gallagher sought to “square the circle” and meld aspects of “soft” internal martial arts with “hard” strength training. He discovered numerous commonalities between powerlifting and internal martial arts. Both disciplines were obsessed with technique and paid close attention to posture, balance and stance. There were also highly developed attitudes regarding the role of a centered and psyched mind that emphasized mental recalibration tactics.
As a senior subject matter expert for Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) I currently work with American Tier 1 Spec Ops, British Special Boat Service and the United States Secret Service. A minimalistic time-compressed strength training approach has proven invaluable for military elite.
Since 1978 I have had over 1,000 articles published. My articles have appeared in Milo, Powerlifting USA, Flex, Muscle&Fitness, Prime, Strength Review and other miscellaneous publications. I worked as an online fitness columnist for the Washington Post and in 5 years wrote 230+ columns. I am the author of five books including the master work “The Purposeful Primitive.”
- 1Won his first National title in 1967 at age 17 as an Olympic lifter.
- 2Won six National Masters Championships in three different weight classes (198lb, 220lb, 242lb)
- 3Won the IPF World Masters Championship in 1992 in the 220 pound class.
- 4Set National Squat record of 772lbs in 1996.at age 46.
- 5Set National Squat record of 450lbs in 2013 raw at age 63.
- 1Guided Black’s Gym to five National Team titles.
- 2Coached Powerlifting Team USA in 1991 to a World Team title.
- 3Guided several lifting greats to many USPF National and IPF World titles. Mark Chaillet and Kirk Karwoski both National and World record holders achieved Hall of Fame Status.
Meet the "Iron Innovator"
I have been involved in the fitness world for over 35 years. About 25 years ago I met Marty Gallagher at the gym while working as a personal trainer. At that time Marty was a staff writer for Weider Publications and asked for help from her in a copy editing capacity. Accepting his offer I began the fitness education of a lifetime. I traveled with him to the top bodybuilding and powerlifting events and gained a vast array of training knowledge that I utilized in my own competitive bodybuilding goals. I competed in bodybuilding for about 7 years winning a Ms. Maryland title that qualified me to compete at the National level. This was a formative time for me when I established nutrition and training habits that are my foundation still today.
In the 1990s I was drawn to zen meditation and yoga in an effort to feel more balanced with my mind and body. I was introduced to meditation and it opened me to the idea of using my breath to control my state-of-mind. I spent 30-45 minutes, 6 days a week sitting on a meditation cushion for about 4 years. This was the beginning of the awareness that breath control was the key to relieving my mind of its perpetual overthinking state.
In 2002 I was diagnosed with Crohns disease. I used nutritional strategies outlined by The Weston A. Price Foundation to bring my disease into remission. This gave me a unique perspective on nutrition that I utilized in our transformation experiment in 2004 as well as existing clients.
In 2012 I was in a terrible car accident where it was discovered that she had a grade 3 spondylolisthesis. Her yogic and training journey had helped her to stay functional despite the extreme postural imbalance but did not fix the imbalance. After the diagnosis she spent a year working with an amazing physical therapist who unlocked her body using Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS).
This therapy can help reset the nervous system improving control of posture, movement and gait. This was another turning point for me in my fitness journey. I learned additional rehab knowledge that I began using with my clients and returned to training using CrossCore Hardcore protocols on the CrossCore suspension trainer instead of barbells and dumbbells. This was a great entry level start back into weight training allowing me to very incrementally increase my payload to slowly retrain my body.
My unusual journey has given me a unique education both nutritionally and in remedial exercises that I use in conjunction with Marty Gallagher's minimalistic training approach. The CrossCore tool has given me the ability to give clients a great progressive resistance workout before transitioning them to training with weights.
In 2000 after moving to Pennsylvania I started an in-home personal training career. In addition to working with clients locally Marty and I hosted fitness camps at our rural home during his five year tenure working at The Washington Post. After studying yoga for several years I began teaching at the local YMCA helping average folks with their training and flexibility.
- 1In 2004 Marty and I embarked on a transformation experiment with local obese clients incorporating his minimalistic training strategies combined with food only bought from the grocery and monitored cardio for 90 days.
- 2The astounding results were chronicled in Marty's book "The Purposeful Primitive." The participants lost an average of 35-40lbs, increased their strength by an average of 30-40% and significantly improved their cardio endurance using a heart rate monitor.
Foreward by Pavel Tsatsouline
"Thinking Simply and Seeing Clearly"
Great! Hands down one of the best books I have ever read. I have 4 PT certifications, including CSCS, and much of what I learned through thousands of dollars of certifications I first learned in this book.
It's an easy read and has that "old-school" lifters mentality to it. It's not very scientific, meaning that it doesn't go into great detail as to WHY these methods and techniques work, but it more than makes up for it by telling you proven methods on HOW to get big and strong.
110% recommend this book to everyone.
The Purposeful Primitive Was Born
Our home has been a rural destination for world champion athletes, elite tier 1 military spec ops fighters and many of the world’s leading fitness experts and authorities. They come and stay with us for the vibe: the gourmet peasant food, hardcore resistance training, running in the woods at dawn and the Old School wisdom.
Our list of visitors includes personalities such as Pavel Tsatsouline, Mark Rippetoe, David Weck, Kirk Karwoski and many others. We have been immersed in a monk-like fitness lifestyle since 1992 when we first met moving to rural Waynesboro, PA in 1999 leaving our corporate jobs to pursue what I would describe as “The Tao of Fitness.” Our mutual quest is to be the best humans possible both physically and psychologically.
When executed with the requisite tenacity, intensity and precision, Purposefully Primitive methods can and will favorably alter the compositional makeup of the human body. Primitive tools and simple modes are used to power sparse methods. We force the body to favorably reconfigure itself by generating physical and psychological fierceness during training. Commonsense nutritional strategies and Old School training tactics are synchronized and placed within a periodized timeframe.
The three interrelated Purposefully Primitive disciplines (weight training, cardiovascular training and nutrition) need to be regularly and routinely practiced in a balanced and proportional fashion. Lock down all aspects of the program and within seven days of full implementation tangible results appear; by the end of the first month, body composition (the fat-to-muscle ratio) undergoes a dramatic turnaround; those who commit completely for 90 days undergo a total metamorphosis. No matter how deep a physical hole you are currently standing in, 90 days of maniacal discipline and teeth-gritting effort will enable you to utterly and completely change the shape, texture, efficiency and hardness of your body.
Frustrated? Not Getting Results? Need An Expert?
Our Mission, Vision and Core Values
We are proud to be purpose-driven in our service to others. We consider having a mission, a vision and set of core values as essential. We are excited to share with you how our vision shaped our core values which beget our mission. We hold our work accountable to the highest standards.
A mission statement is a brief description of a company's fundamental purpose. It answers the question, "Why does our business exist?" All of our work at Functional Strength is guided by this simple, empowering, and unifying statement.
Our Mission: To empower all types and kinds of individuals from afflicted to elite with the knowledge and tools they need to successfully trigger their own radical physical (and psychological) transformation. Our strategies have been honed and refined for six decades.
A vision statement articulates your dreams and hopes for your business. It describes what you are trying to build and serves as a touchstone for your future actions.
Our Vision: Functional Strength has become a trusted training resource that serves a worldwide community of trainers and trainees. The community consists of individuals who we assist in their transformational journeys. All are bonded by a common goal to improve upon their current levels of fitness and wellness. By renovating the human body and improving body function, performance, health, resilience and longevity improve to a dramatic degree. Functional Strength partners up with other industry experts to champion useful resources that aid in our eternal quest to improve upon our current self.
Core values are declarations of integrity that are not to be negotiated. These values govern behaviors in a world where the quality of one’s choices defines who they truly are far more than their abilities.
Generosity of Spirit
We seek to give and share our transformational wisdom that was passed along to us by our mentors. We have honed and refined our modes and methods over six decades helping others in their quest to be better versions of themselves.
Commitment to Excellence
Our core methodology was created by our world champion athletic mentors. We have taken these methods and refined them to make the knowledge user-friendly for all levels – without diluting the effectiveness of these elite methods. Our commitment to excellence began in the 1960s and carries forward to this day.
Integrity of Purpose
We are not tainted by commercialism. Our product is a proven integrated system that generates measurable, beneficial changes in both physique and performance. We are continually focused on our own improvement, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Quality of Expertise
The methods we share were created by National and World champions and codified on a regular and ongoing basis. These elite strength methods were adopted by Tier 1 spec ops fighters and are used to this day. These elite methods were detuned and scaled back then made available to the general public.
It's About You
You are our reason for being. Whether you’re a beginner trainee or an accomplished one, we do what we do to provide educational resources that guide you on your transformational journey. Our mutual quest for health and longevity is lifelong. We strive to share our extensive experience with others to provide a successful, long-term training framework. We appreciate you and are here for you for the long haul.
The FS community of like-minded trainees comes together primarily through our email subscription. We’d love to have you join us if you haven’t already. It's forever free, filled with exclusive content and always optional. You can easily unsubscribe anytime. See you on the inside!
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