Functional strength is the kind of strength you use on a daily basis. When you lift your kids, take out the trash, pile boxes in the garage, or run an obstacle course, all of that is functional strength. While it’s awesome to build power by lifting weights at the gym, it’s MUCH better to focus on the strength that you’ll use every day. If you want to mix things up, here are the best exercises to help you build functional strength:
Don’t waste your time doing bicep curls–this is as good as it gets for your biceps! Your arms, back, and shoulders get a wicked workout with this exercise, and it only uses your body weight. If you were to ever find yourself hanging off the side of a building (such as the roof of your house, if you slip when cleaning the gutters), this exercise would help you pull yourself back up and onto the roof. It’s important that you are able to both hold and lift your body weight, so this is one of the most important exercises you can (and should) do to develop functional strength.
For building chest, shoulder, and tricep strength, nothing beats the push-up! Push-ups are functional, as they use only your body weight. You’ll find that being able to do a lot of push-ups will help you when it comes time to use your chest muscles, such as when trying to see underneath a vehicle or pushing something heavy. With so many variations of push-ups, it’s easy to find exercises that will do more than develop your chest muscles. For example, Spiderman Push-ups will help you improve your hip mobility and ab strength, or Push-Up and Reach will work your abs and sides as well as your chest muscles.
This isn’t just about strength–it’s also about cardiovascular conditioning. This is one of the best full body workouts you can do. You start with a squat, transition into an abs and hip workout, do a push-up to hit the chest, shoulder, and arm muscles, do another abs movement, then finish off with your legs once more. It’s a wicked movement that will set your heart pounding and your lungs burning, and it will help you to develop the functional strength and conditioning that you need to get through a regular day.
Did you know that a large number of scientific studies use Jump Squats as a measurement of leg strength? It’s one of the most practical exercises for your legs, as you get both the slow, controlled movement of the descent and the explosive upward movement. Plus, when you land, your glutes and quads have to contract to control your downward motion. This is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your lower body strength, but it will also help to improve your cardio conditioning AND increase vertical jump height. It’s a plyometric exercises that will do wonders for your legs and body!
You’ve worked out your upper and lower body, and it’s time to finish things off with a workout for your glutes, hamstrings, and core. With every swing, you drop into a half-crouch/squat, which helps to shred your glutes and hamstrings. The swinging motion comes from your abs and back muscles, which will develop the strong core that will protect your spinal column from injury. This is one of the best dynamic exercises, and it will help you to develop some serious core strength and explosive power. Definitely deserves a place on your workout roster!