Top 10 "Functional" Exercises

Top 10 "Functional" Exercises

We've been talking a bit lately about functional fitness - what it is, what it isn't, and the basic concepts that underpin it.

If you're looking at integrating some functional fitness concepts into your training or fitness plan, the last thing we want you to do is search #FunctionalFitness on Instagram. Those search results usually involve some stuff that will get you killed or maimed. 

Instead, we've put together a list of 10 movements that you may find beneficial. If you have a favorite functional movement, tell us in the comments!

10. Stability Ball Stir The Pot

This is a core exercise, sure, but it's a lot more beneficial than cranking out a bunch of crunches. This will challenge every element of your core, as well as force the posterior chain to remain rigid and strong.

9. Overhead Lunges

You can do this with any implement you like, and with one or two hands overhead, whichever you prefer.

My preference is to perform overhead lunges with one hand overhead at a time, and using kettlebells. I think that is the safest way to do them as well.

8. Woodchoppers

Woodchoppers are another exercise you can do in a few ways with a few different implements. A lot of people use cables, which puts the resistance from top to bottom. The next most popular is a dumbbell which reverses the resistance curve, and puts it bottom to top.

I actually prefer to go really old school here. I like a sledgehammer and a tire for my woodchoppers.

7. Kettlebell Snatch

For the other exercises thus far, I've been a little agnostic about the implement you use. Not so here. My opinion is that for most people, traditional barbell snatches risks outweigh the benefits.

A kettlebell snatch however is a great way to get this explosive movement in and greatly reduce the risks.

6. Pull Ups and Push Ups

I know I'm double-dipping here, stop yelling. 

Good old fashioned pull ups and push ups have been a staple of fitness programs dating back to ancient Greece for a reason. They work.

5. Landmines

A landmine is technically a piece of equipment, but some people use it interchangeably with the rotational movement done with it.

On the plus side, if your gym has a landmine, you can do a bunch more functional movements and never have to leave your little corner!

4. Overhead Press

Because we love old-school exercises, the tried and true overhead press makes an appearance.

When performing an overhead press, make sure to get that weight in line with the shoulder itself, ie. stacked over the spine. To do this you will need to tighten and brace with your core and glutes as well.

Fun fact: Olympic weightlifting used to consist of three movements with the third being the press. It was eliminated largely due to disagreements on the proper way to judge the technique of the lift.

3. Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing, when done right, is an absolute athlete maker of a movement.

The problem is, many people get this one wrong. The key thing to remember with a good kettlebell swing is that it is fundamentally a hip-hinge movement. You should not be extending your lower back to move the bell.

2. Deadlift

The deadlift is the fundamental barbell movement. A lot of people say the squat is the king of exercises, but I have to disagree.

It doesn't get any simpler on its face: simply grab the weight and pick it up off the ground. Of course, as you go deeper the technical aspects of the lift are actually myriad, but unlike the squat, you don't have to worry about getting pinned to the floor if you choose a weight that is too heavy.

1. Turkish Get Ups

The Turkish get up is THE king or queen of exercises. 

It will challenge more of your musculature and coordination than anything else. Done right, it will pattern in healthy movement. It will keep your body healthy, strong, and mobile.

This is a movement for life.


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