functional strength training
Fitness Health + Wellness

5 Easy Functional Strength Training Exercises

June 12, 2018

Try these functional strength training exercises to perform daily activities more easily and avoid sore backs and strained muscles.

By Amina Daniels

Functional strength training is term thrown around quite a bit these days … so what exactly does it mean?

At its core, functional training involves exercises that allow people to perform daily activities more easily and without injuries.

All of us want to be healthy enough to live life to the fullest. For some, that may mean achieving a lofty goal such as running a marathon, or hiking the Appalachian Trail. For others, it means being able to keep up with busy toddlers, which is never an easy task!

The simple things we do every day, such as carrying groceries, gardening or squatting to pick up a package can lead to a sore back, strained muscles and small injuries. So, it’s important to keep our bodies conditioned at all times!

Kettlebells are a terrific tool to help you achieve this goal.

So, grab two light- to medium-weight kettlebells for this quick, effective workout. If you don’t have kettlebells, you can use dumbbells.

Perform 10 reps of each exercise all the way through. Rest 3 minutes. Repeat. If you are feeling really strong, do it a third time!

Single Leg Hinge with Row

This exercise challenges your balance, is great for your shoulders and back, and also forces you to keep your core tight during movements performed by other parts of your body, which is a terrific way to achieve overall conditioning.

Execution: Stand, hold a kettlebell in each hand at your sides. Hinge forward at the waist, and raise your right leg straight out in back of you. Row the kettlebells up, then down. Do this 10 times, then repeat on the other side.

Overhead Bell Push

Great for your shoulders, arms and back, this move is very straightforward. Remember to avoid “shrugging” your shoulders. Work on developing a strong, steady movement.

Execution: Stand with feet slightly more than hip distance apart, holding the kettlebells out to the side with bent elbows. Push them both up overhead with a slight “tap” of the bells, then lower so that arms are back at sides with a 90-degree bend in each elbow. Do this 10 times.

Kettlebell Hinge

While this looks easy, again, it’s a great balance challenge. Focus on creating a long straight line with your body at the top of the move, and always keep your core tight.

Execution: Standing, hold a kettlebell in each hand at your sides. Hinge forward at the waist and raise your left leg straight out in back of you. Pause, then stand back up slowly. Repeat, trying not to put weight on the foot/leg that’s rising up and down. Do this 10 times, then repeat on the left side.

Kettlebell Lunge

This works the lower body and is great for the booty!

Execution: Standing, hold a kettlebell in each hand at your sides. Keeping the kettlebells at your sides, lunge back with your right leg, knee grazing the ground, then stand back up again. Do this 10 times and repeat on the other side.

Alternating Kettlebell Rows

This is a terrific upper body/shoulder exercise. Remember not to strain your back — keep your core tight, and if you feel strain in your back, switch to a lower weight.

Execution: Stand with feet hip distance apart, holding a kettlebell in each hand. Hinge forward at the waist, knees bent slightly, and row the kettlebell up with your left hand. As you are bringing it back down, row the other kettlebell up with your right hand. Continue “rowing” so that you get 10 on each side, 20 total.

Feel the burn? Awesome! That means you are getting stronger — and more capable of doing whatever it is that makes your day great!

Amina Daniels is a high energy fitness professional, who champions her studio, Live Cycle Delight, based in the West Village. Amina will also open Hot LCD this Spring, which will offer yoga and Pilates. She holds fitness certifications in RYS200 from Kripalu, Group Strength, Personal Training, TRX Camps, TRX Group Fitness, TRX Rip Trainer and Indoor Cycling by Schwinn Bikes and Real Ryder.


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