13 Best Functional Exercises of All Time

Sure, there are more than 13 great exercises, and they’ll depend on what your exact goals are, but we’re covering one group of exercises that work every part of your body, covers each category from Pull, Push, Lift to Press exercises, and includes attributes for cardio, strength, flexibility plus explosiveness.

 

THE ONLY THIRTEEN EXERCISES YOU’LL EVER NEED

This list has been created by Taco Fleur and Anna Junghans, together we have a combined fitness experience of more than 36+ years. These are THE functional exercises that we use for our clients and our own training.

 

No machines involved! You only require one Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or two Kettlebells to perform the whole set of exercises.

 

If you had only one set of exercises to work with for the rest of your life, one set that would work the whole body, and each one only targeting a specific muscle group, then this would be it! The beauty is that they’re all purely functional exercises.

 

  1. Hip Hinge Dead Lift
    Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell
    Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell
  2. Suitcase Dead Lift
    Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell
  3. Sumo Squat Dead Lift
    Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell
    Pistol Squat Bodyweight or Kettlebell
  4. Pull-up
    Bodyweight or Kettlebell
  5. Chin-up
    Bodyweight or Kettlebell
  6. Chest Push-up
    Bodyweight or Sandbag
  7. Tricep Push-up
    Bodyweight or Sandbag
  8. High Plank
    Bodyweight or Sandbag
  9. Jumping Burpee
    Bodyweight
  10. Wide Grip Bent-Over-Rows
    Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell
  11. Close Inverted Grip Bent-Over-Rows
    Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell
  12. Shoulder Press
    Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell
  13. Bent Side Press
    Kettlebell

Note: Other equipment can be used to perform the exercises, however, we chose just three pieces of equipment to work with. More muscles than listed are involved in each exercise, however, we’ve chosen each exercise to make sure that the whole as a group has targeted each big muscle group in the body.

Functional Fitness Workouts

If you want to skip the nitty gritty, if you want to jump straight into the deep water and get your sweat on with workouts, go no further and check out this list we put together of the 10 functional fitness workouts.

1. Hip Hinge Dead Lift

Targets the hamstrings, gluteus maximus, forearms and erector spinea.

Can be performed with Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell.

Erector spinae HamstringsGlutes

More info on the Dead Lift here and a video about the Dead Lift here. When you’ve mastered this exercise try the Single Leg HHDL variation!

A video about the HHDL from Schwarzenegger.com.

1. Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing

Sharing number 1 with the HHDL. As a qualified and passionate Kettlebell Trainer I could not look past the two-handed kettlebell swing (AKA Russian Swing). It’s very similar to the Dead Lift in regards to movement and muscles used but much more explosive. If you want to get some more Cardio in then swap the HHDL for the Swing sometimes.

Is performed with a Kettlebell.

Subscribe to this Amazing Youtube Channel below and get access to more of these type of videos for free.

2. Suitcase Dead Lift

Targets the upper traps and obliques.

Can be performed with Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell.

Upper trapeziusExternal obliques Suitcase dead lift

 

3. Sumo Squat Dead Lift

Targets the quads, abductors and adductors.

Can be performed with Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell.

quadricepsabductorssumo-squat-dead-lift

 

3. Pistol Squat

There is some overlapping with the Sumo and Pistol, but they’re both so great that they share the number three spot together.

Can be performed with Bodyweight or Kettlebell.

Our Youtube Channel features other great free content on bodyweight exercises, subscribe below to stay up-to-date.

4. Pull-up

Targets the lats and lower traps.

Can be performed with Bodyweight or a dipping belt and Kettlebell for added weight.

pull-up

 

5. Chin-up

Targets the biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis.

Can be performed with Bodyweight or a dipping belt and Kettlebell for added weight.

chin-up

 

6. Chest Push-up

Targets the pecs.

Can be performed with Bodyweight or Sandbag as added weight.

Chest push-up

 

7. Tricep Push-up

Targets the triceps and anconeus.

Can be performed with Bodyweight or Sandbag as added weight.

Tricep pushups

 

8. High Plank

Targets the core muscles through an isometric contraction.

Can be performed with Bodyweight or Sandbag as added weight.

 

9. Jumping Burpee

Targets the calves, core, and also takes care of your cardio and explosiveness.

Is performed using Bodyweight.

10. Wide Grip Bent-Over-Rows

Targets rhomboids and middle traps.

Can be performed with Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell.

Rhomboidswide-grip-bent-over-rows

 

11. Close Inverted Grip Bent-Over-Rows

Targets rear delts (posterior deltoids).

Can be performed with Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell.

Anterior deltoidreverse-close-grip-bent-over-rows-300x150

The following video is a good one to watch as most exercises are included in the list.

12. Shoulder Press

Targets front delts (anterior deltoids).

Can be performed with Olympic Barbell, Sandbag or Kettlebell.

kettlebell-shoulder-press

 

13. Bent Side Press

Targets side delts (lateral deltoids).

Is performed with a Kettlebell.

1274554

Also try this with a bottoms-up grip

If you like this list, please share it. Ask any questions below if you want more information on each of the exercises.
WHY SO SPECIFIC WITH EXERCISE NAMING?
A Dead Lift can be performed in many ways, there is not just one DEADLIFT.

 

Buy an awesome book which features most of the above exercises.
Buy Kettlebell Workouts and Challenges 1.0 today!

 


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