Functional training sounds like another fitness fad workout, but it can help you improve stability and balance while reducing injuries. This type of workout uses natural movements that mimic body movements you make throughout the day.
A great example is a Lateral Shuffle Bar Pickup that trains the shoulder stabilisers as well as the core muscles.
One of the best ways to strengthen your legs, glutes and back is by doing squats. They also help improve your balance, posture and boost your metabolism.
Functional training is a type of exercise that focuses on your natural body movements and mimics the way you move in daily life. It’s an efficient way to increase your strength because it’s less focused on growing and isolating muscle groups.
Rather, it works multiple muscles and joints at once and sculpts your entire body, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s also more practical than other workouts, which often involve intense exercises like drop sets, super high reps and negatives.
Start with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees to lower yourself down only half the distance of a typical squat, keeping your back straight. Then push through your heels to come back up. It targets your legs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, core and shoulders, including the latissimus dorsi (or lats). It’s a great exercise to add into your routine.
The pushup is one of the most recognizable bodyweight exercises and an essential component to anyone’s strength training routine. But it’s not just a chest exercise: “They work the shoulders, triceps, core muscles and more,” says Sung. “It’s a closed-kinetic chain exercise that increases resistance throughout the entire movement.”
Pushups can be modified and scaled to any level of strength or experience, and they help build endurance. “The more reps you can do, the more resistance your body is under—and that’s what leads to muscle growth,” explains Thompson.
For those who struggle with regular pushups, try performing them on your knees instead of your feet or at an incline to decrease the load on your upper body. You can also vary the tempo to increase time under tension, which is key for increasing strength and endurance. The break dancer pushup is a fun variation that strengthens the shoulders, increases hip mobility and challenges core stabilization.
Just as the plank eclipsed the crunch as the most popular core exercise, many trainers have over-relied on planks and failed to properly integrate them into clients’ overall workouts. Also known as a front hold or abdominal bridge, the plank is a static strength exercise that works muscles in your shoulders, chest, arms and back. Planks build core strength and stability, which is essential for improving balance, posture and muscular endurance.
To get the most benefit from planks, make sure your whole body is rigid throughout the exercise. Avoid arching your back, which shifts the tension from your abs to your back and can lead to injury. Likewise, you want to avoid tilting your head up during the plank as it can strain your neck. If your hips start to sag, it’s a sign that you’re fatigued and it’s time to end the reps.
The exercises in this workout are great for building full-body strength, especially if you do them regularly. They’ll also enhance your mobility and help you move more easily through daily activities, sports and tasks like lifting kids and groceries.
Start with a dynamic warm-up before moving into these compound movements. You’ll be able to handle more weight since your muscles will be warmed up, and you’ll burn more calories because functional training often requires higher repetitions than isolation exercises.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand close to your chest. Push into a deep lunge, driving through your left heel to lift the dumbbells up to the top of your shoulders (as high as you can without twisting at the spine). Slowly lower back down, bringing the dumbbells straight over your right knee until they’re in front of you. Repeat for reps on each side.
You’ll hit all your core muscles as well as the biceps and shoulders with this movement, which is a variation of the standard plank. This one is more challenging since it requires you to hold the position while pulling a dumbbell from side to side.