Functional Weight Training Exercises


Functional training is an effective form of exercise that trains several muscle groups. While training several muscle groups, you execute movements performed in everyday life that can improve balance, core stabilization strength and flexibility. Functional weight training exercises are used by rehabilitation clients, athletes and workout enthusiasts. You can perform several functional weight training exercises to see improvements in your performance.

Barbell Squats

Squats are considered to be the “king” of weight training exercises. The complex nature of the exercise incorporates several muscle groups, including the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, back and core. As a functional exercise, the squat trains the proper movement for lifting items by using your legs instead of your back. To perform the squat, start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and lower your hips back and down until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your feet flat on the floor, back arched and chest up throughout the range of motion. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions for two to three sets.


Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, considers the deadlift to be one of the most essential functional weight training exercises. The deadlift teaches you how to properly lift items off the ground and can improve your running, jumping and throwing ability. As a total body exercise, the deadlift increases strength in the legs, hips, back, core and arms. Place your feet under your hips, and your hands just outside your legs. Track the bar close to the body as you lift the weight from the floor. Throughout the range of motion, keep your abs tight, feet flat and chest up. Focus on form and technique while performing 10 repetitions, gradually increasing the weight and performing three to five repetitions.


Lunges are a functional weight training exercise that can improve your posture by strengthening the back, shoulders and arms along with improving lower body strength and flexibility. Lunges have several variations and can be weighted with a dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell. For a walking lunge, step one foot forward and keep the front foot flat on the floor as you lower your hips until the front knee is over the ankle. Keep the back knee at a 90-degree angle and push up slowly with the front foot to the starting position. Continue with another step with the opposite foot and repeat for a total of 10 to 15 steps with each leg, performing two to three sets.

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