Functional strength training is the buzzword these days, and we hear it a lot. While it is gaining a lot of popularity and acceptance in the fitness world, many people confuse functional strength training with traditional strength training. Remember, however, that they are not the same.
So, what’s the difference? Well, strength training exercise programs aimed at building functional strength simultaneously engage several muscle groups to replicate the patterns of basic human movements. On the contrary, in conventional strength training, we isolate a particular muscle group – like the biceps, back, or quads – and train it to strengthen that particular region.
For a functional strength training program to be effective, it should focus on building and improving coordination between the nervous system and various muscle groups. The end goal should be to improve your performance in everyday tasks.
The effects of functional strength training are usually visible in your real-life activities if your training program focuses on the following factors:
With that in mind, let’s move on to exploring the best exercises to build functional strength.
Here we have shortlisted some of the best and the easiest exercises to include in your functional strength training routine. Let’s explore what muscles work and how you should perform them.
Primarily, squats work your quadriceps, straightening the gluteus maximus and the legs. The lower you get, the better it targets the glutes. If the intention is to build strength in your butt, squatting below 90 degrees is recommended. It’s an easy exercise that you can do anytime in the day.
It’s a simple mobility exercise that works your lower body and improves your ability to get down to the floor and then back up only with the help of your lower body and without using the arms. This exercise mainly works your quadriceps, spinal erectors, and glutes.
As you perform this functional strength workout, ensure that your hands are always behind your head and the torso is perfectly erected right throughout.
Jump lunges work your glutes and quadriceps, and you build great power by jumping explosively. It also heavily engages your nervous system without causing much fatigue to your muscles. You get all these benefits with jump squats, but in the case of jump lunges, there’s an element of asymmetry as well. They work your gluteus medius and the sides of your thighs. Your balance is also tested more here.
Just like jump lunges, jump squats work your glutes and quadriceps. Explosive jumping also builds power and heavily engages your nervous system without much muscular fatigue. Jump squats also make an ideal choice for warming up.
A palm plank is a variant of the regular plank where you plank on your palms – the way you do when performing push-ups – instead of forearms. It makes the plank easier on the quads and the abs, and the hard work is done by your arms.
A perfect full-body combined bodyweight and cardio resistance exercise, mountain climbers, are a great choice for functional strength training. The exercise works your arms, back, legs, and core simultaneously.
Make sure that you do steps 2-3 quickly so as to mimic fast-paced climbing or running.
It’s a combination of mobility and resistance exercise that tests the strength and endurance of your upper and lower body. It also tests how flexible your back and hamstrings are.
Making these functional exercises a part of your strength training routine will help you build your functional strength quicker and easier. These are some of the simplest moves, and yet they create a big impact.