To master natural movements – from a simple squat to sprinting for the bus – you must bring functional strength training into your fitness routine. To build your functional strength, training involves targeting muscles used in day-to-day life by incorporating movements you use at work, home, walking the dog, carrying shopping bags, whatever requires physical effort. Pushing, pulling, lifting, bending, reaching, pressing… we’ve covered the basics in this one set of functional strength training exercises. It’ll work your entire body, helping you to move more skillfully and enhance your performance all round.
Six functional strength training exercises:
1. Bodyweight squat
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out.
Looking straight forward, engage your abs and slowly bend your knees as you lower your hips. Imagine you’re dropping to sit on a low chair.
Flatten your heels to the floor to keep your body stable.
Pause for one moment and then strongly push back to starting position. That’s one rep.
2. Farmer’s walk
Grab two heavy kettlebells.
Keep your spine tall and brace your core and walk across the room.
Don’t lose your tight core – imagine you’re just about to be punched in the stomach the whole time. But remember to breathe.
3. Sumo deadlift
Stand behind a barbell with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
Point your toes out slightly and bend at the hips, keeping your chest up.
Drive your hips back and reach down to grab the barbell with an overhand grip.
Breathe in deeply and tighten your core.
With your spine straight, engage your glutes as you drive your hips through and lift the barbell from the ground. Finish with your knees and hips locked out in a straight line.
Slowly lower the barbell to the floor – that’s one rep.
Take hold of an overhead bar, either with your palms facing you or palms facing away – whichever feels better.
Engage your shoulder muscles and flex your lats as you pull yourself upwards towards the bar. Pull your elbows down and back behind you.
Raise your chin to the bar and lower back down into your starting hanging position slowly.
5. Tuck-jump burpee
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides.
Bend your knees and place your hands on the ground.
Kick your legs out as you drop your body close to (but not on) the floor, elbows bent.
Push up with your arms and hop your legs up to reach them.
Immediately jump up in one explosive movement and bring your knees to your chest. Tap your knees with your arms.
As you land, slightly bend your knees.
Reach your hands back down to the floor and immediately repeat.
6. Tricep pushup
Get into a solid plank position – hands below shoulders, neck neutral, spine long and feet together.
As you move towards the floor, keep your elbows tucked to your sides and your upper arms straight.
Lower down until your chest reaches the ground, then push back up to starting position. This is one rep.
Many of these functional strength training exercises are strongman staples, helping you build power, posture, coordination and balance while decreasing the risk of injury. Craving more functional fitness inspiration? Our blog has plenty.
Personal Trainer from Vienna, Austria
Judit is an experienced personal trainer from Vienna. She creates individual training and nutrition plans and specializes in functional strength and endurance training. For her, fitness means continuously working on yourself in order to go through life more confidently.