7 Most Effective Exercises for Functional Strength Training

7 Most Effective Exercises for Functional Strength Training

Functional strength training exercises are meant to prepare your muscles for daily activities by simulating typical movements that you do everyday. Many functional exercises engage multiple muscle groups in the upper and lower body, and also emphasize core stability. When functional exercises are executed properly, they can make your every day activities easier, minimize your risk of injury, and improve your quality of life. 

Let’s take a look at 7 of the most effective functional exercises to incorporate into your functional strength training program: 

  1. Medicine Ball Squat with Lift Overhead – targets the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, back, shoulders, and arms

  • Begin with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart while holding a medicine ball in front of you with both hands
  • Lower your hips until your thighs are parallel with the floor and lower the medicine ball to the floor
  • Hold for 2 to 3 seconds and return to the starting position
  • Ensure that you head is up and your back is straight throughout the movement
  • Now, lift the medicine ball above your head and hold for 2 to 3 seconds
  • Slowly return to the starting position
  • Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions for 2 to 3 sets
  1. Deadlift - targets the hips, legs, back, core and arms

  • Begin by placing your feet under your hips with your arms positioned just outside of your legs
  • Slowly track the bar as close to your body as you can while you lift the weight from the floor
  • Ensure that your feet are flat on the ground, your core is tight, and your chest is up throughout the movement
  • Aim for 10 repetitions for 2 to 3 sets 
  1. Lunge – targets the back, hips, core, and legs

  • Begin by placing one foot forward
  • Slowly lower your hips until your front knee is positioned over your front ankle, while keeping your back knee bent at 90 degrees
  • Slowly push up from your front foot to return to the starting position
  • Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions on each side for 2 to 3 sets 
  1. Side Lunge with Reach – targets the back, glutes, hips, core, and legs

  • Begin with your feet positioned about double shoulder width apart
  • Keep the weight on your left heel and push your hips backwards to lunge to the side so that your leg is parallel to the floor
  • Ensure that you keep your chest up
  • Push back and reach your left leg behind your right leg as far as you can
  • Return to the lunge position
  • Aim for 10 repetitions on each side for 2 to 3 sets 
  1. Stair Climb Combined with Bicep Curl – targets the arms, hips, and legs

  • Begin by holding dumbbells in each hand at the bottom of a flight of stairs
  • Climb the stairs slowly while performing bicep curls at the same time
  • Once you get to the top of the staircase, walk or run down the stairs
  • Aim for 5 to 10 repetitions
  • as you get stronger, increase the weight of your dumbbells 
  1. Push Up with Hip Extension – targets the chest, shoulders, glutes, and core

  • Begin on your hands and knees with your hands positioned slightly wider than your shoulders
  • Extend your left leg straight back and tighten your core muscles
  • While keeping your left leg lifted, slowly lower your chest towards the ground and then push up
  • Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions on each side 
  1. Chin Ups/Pull Ups – targets the back, shoulders, and arms

  • Begin by gripping the bar shoulder width apart with your arms straightened
  • Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows towards the ground
  • Pull until your chin passes the bar
  • Lower yourself down so that your arms are straight again
  • Aim for 10 repetitions

*if you grab the bar with your palms facing up, the exercise is easier and places more emphasis on your arms 

Functional exercises are a great way to train your body to perform every day activities more easily. This will ultimately lead to a reduced risk of injury and an improved quality of life. If you’re looking for specific functional exercises that fit in with your life, or if you’re struggling with these exercises, the physical therapists at Blue Hills Sports & Spine Rehabilitation can help teach you how to do them properly.  Give us a call today.