So now that we have defined what function is, let’s look at some examples of some functional exercises.
Here’s a list of exercises showing a ‘good’ exercise – more ‘functional’ – and a ‘bad’ one – less ‘functional’. Both exercises are targeting similar muscle groups.
Functional: Bodyweight Squat
Less Functional: Leg Press
Less Functional: Leg Extension
Functional: Romanian Deadlift
Less Functional: Lying Leg Curl
Upper Body Push
Functional: Standing Overhead Press (Barbell or Dumbell)
Less Functional: Shoulder Press Machine
Less Functional: Machine Fly
Upper Body Pull
Functional: Body Weight Row
Less Functional: Seated Machine Row
Less Functional: Lat Pull Down
(By the way, Bodybuilding.com is a great place to look if you need a explanation via picture or video of any of the exercises listed above – link can be found below)
This is by no means an exhaustive list – but hopefully enough to give an idea. So remember, we want an exercise where we have the ability to move a heavy weight – in this case heavy is relative (whatever a heavy weight is for you) – the ability to move it over a (relatively) long distance, and we want the ability to do it quickly. So this automatically rules out a lot of exercises – for example, those done on a selectorized weight machine. Not to say they’re bad by nature or don’t have a place in an exercise routine – they’re just not ‘functional’.
So now for a sample workout:
This workout contains two ‘groups’ of exercises – each is to be completed circuit-style, for three sets of each exercise total.
Barbell Back Squat – 12 Reps
Push-Up – 15 Reps
Body Weight Row – 10 Reps
Repeat this group of exercises 3 times, circuit-style, with as little rest as possible.
Lunge – 12 Reps each leg
Dumbell Front Squat to Overhead Press – 15 Reps
Pull-Up – 10 Reps
Done in same style as first group.
Enjoy your workout!