What is Functional Training?

Functional Training is an industry word used  to illustrate exercises that improve your foundation for movement and activities of daily living.  Simplified, exercises that will reduce your risk of falling or injuring yourself while stepping onto a curb or putting the groceries away.

Some characteristics of functional exercises are

  • Standing unsupported
  • Maximizes joint mobility
  • Requires active stabilization
  • Integrates joint actions
  • Emphasizes strength, power and dynamic  balance
  • Focuses on both acceleration and deceleration

Following are exercises that possess the characteristics you need for functional training. Always check with your doctor before starting any new program to make sure you are cleared for exercise.






  • For this exercise I am trying to simulate picking up groceries and putting them away in the cupboard.
  • For this squat use a band to wrap around you and a sturdy object. If you do not have one of these just omit it from your exercise. You are trying to achieve acceleration and deceleration by having something pull you forward and you being able to resist it.
  • Grab something that is a challenging weight; keep it close to your chest and squat down like you are going to sit. Keep your weight on your heals, shoulders relaxed and back straight.
  • As you come up keep your core strong and place object on top of something.
  • Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.







  • For this exercise you are doing a proper way of picking something up while twisting. A lot of individuals injure themselves when picking something up and twisting. They end up hurting their backs.
  • This exercise shows you to use your legs for the power and not your back.
  • Start by putting your weight on your right leg, back is straight, and core is engaged.
  • Lean over by bending at your hips and knees. Put your weight on your right leg. Feel your glutes engage and contract them while standing up putting the weighted object up above y our head or equal level.
  • Repeat for 10-20 repetitions and change sides.

These two exercises are just two of many that will help you engage the correct muscle groups in performing activities of daily living. Add them to your weekly routine and you will notice a difference next time you pick something up.


April showers bring May flowers!!! And you know what that means??? Lots of garden work and lots of back aches. But it doesn’t have to be.  If you continue to do my core exercises you will feel a big difference this year. My clients are living proof that back aches don’t belong to gardening. So keep up the good work! Next month I will show you some fun exercises to keep that back strong when bending over playing in the garden.

Until next time, be well and live actively,

Jan M. Ten Bruin

ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

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