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Life Force

Life Force Personified – The Benefits of Strength Training

Marty Gallagher’s lifting career has spanned over 50 years.  He is a testament to a life long commitment to the benefits of strength training.  He started lifting weights when he was 12 years old studying Strength and Health magazines for training routines.  His dad purchased him a rickety weight set and set it up in the basement.  By the time he was 17 he won his first National title in Olympic lifting.

Marty grew up watching and learning from the Worlds best lifters of the day creating a foundation for the basic functional strength training strategies that he espouses and represents today.  His early training strengthened not only his muscles but his ligaments and tendons as well.  This formative training established a solid structure that made his body stronger and more resistant to injury.

As he evolved in his lifting and coaching he discovered the universal truth that these basic functional strength training strategies can help both the average and elite trainee to gain strength and become more injury resistant.  He has proven this theory over and over again with trainees that range from the morbidly obese to the elite spec ops community.  At 67 years old he continues to challenge himself physically understanding that as we age we must fight the tide of physical degradation.

Marty Gallagher is life force personified.  See video of barbell squats – 255 x 10 – 67 years old.

Life Force

Extend Your Life Force – The Benefits of Strength Training

Our modern society has become increasingly more sedentary. With this evolution average people have lost connection with their bodies. The benefits of strength training are to increase muscle mass which in turn increases the metabolism and overall vitality. The dilemma is obtaining important bio-motor attributes of strength, speed, endurance, agility and flexibility without having to devote an inordinate amount of time to obtaining strength and stamina.

We have a transformative template that includes progressive resistance training, cardiovascular conditioning, nutritional awareness and psychological fortitude. Progressive resistance builds and strengthens the body's guide wire system. Cardiovascular training improves stamina and endurance. Nutritional awareness helps to support the muscle building process. Psychological fortitude is the willpower it takes to stay connected to strength training goals. This comprehensive approach is designed to fundamentally transform the human body while simultaneously improving human performance by strengthening the body's guide wire system.

benefits of strength training

Intensity Is the Force Multiplier

Time is our most precious commodity. We all understand the need to be strong, fit, lean, capable and healthy – but who has the time to spend ten hours a week in the gym? Exercise takes time and time is precious. Optimally we seek maximum training bang for minimal time investment.

The degree of pure physical effort needed to trigger the adaptive response dictates that training sessions need to be short. It isn’t a choice, it’s a reality: train as hard as we recommend and sessions are short because they have to be. Our system utilizes two separate training modalities: resistance training and cardiovascular training. In both exercise disciplines we are exercise minimalists and champion a strategy of doing fewer things better but doing them more intensely. We narrow the exercise selections and narrow our focus.

Our approach to training is purposefully minimalistic. Short, extremely intense and highly focused training sessions are done in such a way that there is no degradation of results. The force multiplier is training intensity. What makes the short sessions effective is the amount of intensity, the degree of pure physical effort exerted, generated during these short sessions.

The Transformative Template

Progressive resistance training has many benefits. It builds functional, usable muscle that equates to more raw strength allowing strength to be maintained late into life. This means that we can retard the detrimental degradation of aging and retain function and mobility far later into life if diligient in our practice. The use of full range-of-motion movements strengthens tendons, ligaments and muscle insertion points to make the trainee more injury resistant and thickens and strengthens bone, fighting osteoporosis.

Cardiovascular conditioning improves and increases stamina, endurance, vitality and favorably alters body composition. We need train our “internal plumbing” with the same regularity and intensity we use to train our external musculature. Targeted training of these internal muscles strengthens and improves their functionality while increasing organ capacities and capabilities. To obtain results from our cardiovascular training efforts sessions need generate a degree of pure physical effort sufficient enough to trigger the adaptive response: only when the adaptive response is triggered do we reap any physiological benefit.

Nutritional awareness supports the physcial recovery and building processes of the body. Our goal is to establish critical thinking as it relates to nutrition. Our approach puts the science back into eating and relates a collective consensus of nutritional modes and methods used by professional athletes, elite spec ops, MMA fighters and competitive bodybuilders to accelerate workout recovery and muscular growth.

Psychological fortitude is the sustained psyche used to artificially induce the "fight or flight" response.  By subjecting the body to intense physical effort a trainee can trigger the "fight or flight" response. The body awakens in order to cope with the severity of the training effort. This state can be achieved with astounding regularity using high intensity progressive resistance and cardiovascular training.

Practical Programming

The competent programmer creates training regimens designed to increase power and strength and stamina while preventing or rehabilitating injury. The first duty of the able and facile programmer is to determine the trainees exact needs. After absorbing the facts, data and idiosyncratic differentiations, the programmer constructs a training template, one that will enable the trainee to morph from what they are into what the seek to become. We do so incrementally and methodically; “creeping incremental-ism” deposits the athlete at the predetermined goal at the end of the allotted periodized timeframe – essentially transformed.

No one trains, diets, performs cardio or goes to the trouble to plan and periodize in order to stay the same: we train because we want to improve our physique and we want to improve our performance. One sure-fire way to improve performance is to improve the body. When we become stronger with increased stamina, when we are leaner and more muscular, performance in any and all athletic benchmarks automatically improves. When we look at the individual athlete, there are questions that need to be posed….

  What is the goal?
  Is that goal realistic?
  How much time do we have?
 What needs to be maintained, improved or corrected?

All elite athletes periodize: periodization sets goals into a timeframe then works backwards to a starting point. The periodized athlete ‘reverse engineers’ a plan based on the intended result and the amount of time allotted. To understand periodization we start by quantifying time….

  Macrocycle is the overall length of the periodized cycle.
  Mesocycle is for a single month.
  Microcycle is for a week.

The most basic form of periodization is linear periodization. The classical linear periodization model is a 12-week macrocycle that contains three, four-week mesocycles and twelve one-week microcycles. Categories are created and placed in vertical columns. Each week has replanned performance goals for exercises. Periodization tactics need not be confined to weight training.  In a nutshell, the way to periodize or “cycle” any lift is as follows….
  • Create a realistic goal
  • Establish a realistic timeframe
  • Reverse engineer: work backwards with a calendar
  • Place realistic goals within a specified timeframe
  • Work backwards to establish weekly benchmarks
  • Every 3-4 weeks alter the variables in anticipation of stagnation
  • When instituting changes, make change dramatic, not minor
  • Synergy = Longevity

    The synergy of these individual components creates human longevity. Our population is living longer and wanting a better quality of life later in life. Challenging ourselves to push against the tide of aging is the answer to improved functionality and happiness!

    About Functional Strength

    Welcome to Functional Strength!   We are here to provide high quality information and advice on how to preserve and prolong your life force. Functional strength is the strength that gets us through life and daily survival.  Often times we lose this functionality in our sedentary lifestyles.  This loss of functionality has a negative cascading effect to our health and well being.  Our goal is to help others regain their lost vitality and open the door to good health habits.

    benefits of strength training

    In The Beginning

    About 25 years ago I met my husband, Marty Gallagher, at the gym. My name is Stacy. At that time in my life I decided to embark on a journey of becoming a personal trainer and secured a job working at a local fitness club. Marty came in for his 6am workout my second day on the job. He went to the bench area and loaded 315lb on the bar. He pulled the bar out of the rack and after a couple of reps had the bar stuck on his chest. I freaked because in my initial training for the position club liability had been dinned into my head. He proceeded to roll the loaded bar from his chest to his lap and sat up then rolling the bar across his knees putting it on the floor. I approached him angrily and he quickly introduced himself diffusing my state of mind. Years later he told me he had missed the rep on purpose hoping to catch my eye. Clearly his strategy worked.

    At that time he was a staff writer for Weider Publications while working full-time and asked if I would help him in a copy editing capacity. I accepted his offer and began the fitness education of a lifetime. What I did not know in our initial encounter was that my future husband was a World Champion powerlifter and a prolific writer on all things fitness. I travelled 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 go to the National level. This was a formative time for me when I established nutrition and training habits that are my foundation still today.

    Transformation Experiment

    We were married in 1999 and moved to rural Waynesboro, PA. Marty walked away from his full-time job as a COO of a telemarketing firm to become a full-time writer. He hosted an hour long online fitness blog for the Washington Post for about three years. I continued for three more years to commute from Waynesboro,PA to K Street in D.C. working as an executive for Arthur Anderson as the Administrator of the Partner Financial Planning Program. Arthur Anderson was responsible for certifying the books for Enron. When Enron collapsed I found myself without a job and became a home school mom to my learning disabled/hearing impaired daughter.  With both of us home we embarked on a human transformation experiment for three months with a group of obese people.  The goal was to train them no more than 5 cumulative hours a week.


    • Weight training sessions would be performed 3 times per week utilizing squat, bench press and deadlift with sessions only lasting 30 minutes.
    • Outdoor walking cardio sessions would be performed 7 times per week with sessions also only lasting 30 minutes wearing a heart rate monitor.
    • We taught them how to purchase and cook healthy meals.

    The Results

    This was the proof that the system used by elite lifters could transform average folks safely and effectively. We began to host fitness camps at our house helping average folks walk through the same journey. Our impediment was reaching people. This was before the advent of social media. Most of our clients came from Marty's presence at the Washington Post. The question was how to reach a wider audience with these ideas. This is when Marty's opus magnus was born called "The Purposeful Primitive." His first book is highly acclaimed by strength elites all over the world.

    In 2010 Marty began working with the Spec Ops community utilizing the same strength system. The operators have a limited amount of time to dedicate to progressive resistance so Marty's minimalistic system was a perfect fit. He consulted with operators both here and abroad coaching them through their strength training goals and inspiring them to compete in powerlifting meets. Operators often times land in remote places where there is no access to gym equipment. Marty was asked by them to assess potential suspension weight training devices that could be used when deployed. The two options were TRX and CrossCore. CrossCore had more versatility compared to TRX because of its pulley design. The book "CrossCore Hardcore" was created outlining how basic progressive resistance exercises could be replicated on a suspension training device.

    Health Crisis

    In 2012 I was in a terrible car accident where it was discovered that I had a grade 3 spondylolisthesis. This is a spinal disorder in which a bone (vertebra) slips forward onto the bone below it. The spondy was an old injury however it had taken its toll on my posture causing an extreme lordosis (curve in low back). I had spent years feeling uncomfortable with my posture and now I understood why. In the 1990s I had been drawn to zen meditation and yoga in an effort to feel more balanced with my body. Those efforts helped me to stay functional despite the extreme inbalance but did not fix the imbalance. I spent a year working with an amazing physical therapist who unlocked my body using Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS). This therapy can help reset the nervous system which establishes programs that control human posture, movement and gait.

    Once my body was working in a more balanced way I was able to return to training. I used CrossCore Hardcore protocols instead of barbells and dumbbells because it allowed me to very incrementally increase my payload. My journey led me to in home personal training with older folks who felt intimidated by a gym environment but were highly motivated. CrossCore gave me the ability to give clients a great progressive resistance workout and identify poor posture within each movement. The squat, push and pull became my functional movement screen.

    Our Goal

    The exciting thing about our methods is that this system can transform anyone whether an elite or average person with a minimal amount of time commitment. When physical capabilities and capacities are improved trainees become more resistant to injury and retain function as they age.  Our protocols provide increased strength and vitality while strengthening the human guide wire system in such a way as to reduce and prevent injury.

    We want to provide both the tools and education to people truly interested in physical transformation. We want to help people have a better quality of life by helping them to move better. Movement is the key to human longevity. The older we get the more essential it is to fight against the natural decline that occurs when we age. This challenges not only our physical state but also our mental state.

    By improving the five bio-motor benchmarks of strength, speed, endurance, agility and flexibility the trainee is made stronger, fitter and more capable, regardless the task. The goal of this site is to share with trainess tried and proven modes and methods, techniques and tactics and help trainees to exercise critical thinking as it relates to physical training, nutrition and the subtle psychological aspects of the “transformative process.”

    The dilemma is obtaining these important bio-motor attributes without having to devote an inordinate amount of time to obtaining strength and stamina. Is it possible to create a time-compressed fitness template that fits fitness into hectic lifestyles? Are there time-compressed training templates that deliver uncompromising results? The answer is YES!