Functional Fitness created a new section in gyms containing kettlebells, suspension systems, Vypers, wobble boards, exercise balls and medicine balls. It created a whole new approach to fitness that lies at the heart of any modern methods that have taken its teachings one step further. It was originally a method developed for rehabilitation where movements that patients would perform at home, at work, or recreationally would be practised in a controlled environment.

It was a way of ensuring that these movements could be performed and rehabilitation had been achieved. Turning this on its head trainers then began thinking that if people trained these movements then pushing, pulling, lifting, bending and diagonal movements would be less likely to cause injury in the first place. Specific programmes were created dependent on someone’s work, sport, leisure, and social activities. A marathon runner would be trained with an emphasis on endurance. A landscape gardener would have back orientated strength training exercise in their workout. This type of tailored programme began to have far reaching implications on the way many viewed fitness.

Functional training is centred on recreating the natural movements of the body and so distances itself from training machines that only allow for one plane of movement. Functional training focuses on complex movements which use more than one muscle group and engage the stabilizers and peripheral muscles as well as core muscle groups.

There is a range of equipment used but the emphasis is on bodyweight and different types of weights that promote a free range of movement, and balance as well as stability, where the bodies core needs to engage for correct execution. You could use: clubbells, macebells, cable machines, barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, bodyweight, exercise balls, resiatnce tubes, wobble boards, balance disks, sandbags and suspension systems.

The ideal is to have a functional training programme written up so that it is tailored specifically to your requirements. However, if we are honest with ourselves then we are aware of our own bodies. Think about any weaknesses you have, any stiffness, adapted ranges of motion, old injuries, or repetitive strain issues caused by work/training patterns. You should be able to make a basic assessment as to whether your training should require some back strengthening exercises, a low weight rehabilitation move for a stiff shoulder, focus on core exercises or be endurance orientated.

Functional workouts typically involve a variety of exercises that work on flexibility, core, balance, strength and power. If you currently undergoing rehabilitation then consult a physio before undertaking your own exercise plan.

Here are a few workouts that will satisfy your functional fitness requirements – adjust the weights/reps to control the intensity to match your level of ability. As will all exercise make sure you follow the generic warm up provided at the start of this book before completing a workout and the cool down and stretching at the end of the workout.

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Functional 1 (Core and Legs emphasis)


Squat with medicine ball – squat holding ball at chest height and extend straight above the head when standing x 20

Push up into side plank – one push up – then into left side plank position (hold 3 seconds) – one push up – then into right side plank (hold 3 seconds) x 15

Lunge with a twist alternating legs x 20

Turkish Get up hold ( see glossary) x 6 each arm

Torso rotation with medicine ball – top of the V in a sit up position – holding the medicine rotate left and then right x 20

Plank x 30 secs


Functional 2 (Core & Arms emphasis)