8 Benefits Of Functional Strength Training

Plus how to try it yourself.

What is functional strength training? Experts explain its many benefits.
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What Is Functional Strength Training?

It's exercise that trains your body to function better in daily life (like when you pick things up, stand, and walk). "Functional training helps you do these things [better] and become stronger," says Josh Siroko, owner of Lift Chicago.


The Movements

According to Siroko, the basic moves include pushing and pulling, movements that help you sit and stand (like squats), hinges (like deadlifts) which help with picking things up off the ground, and rotation, which works your core to keep you upright.


It Builds A Foundation

As a form of strength training, functional exercises build strength and mobility by working multiple muscle groups at once, says Anthony Crouchelli, a certified personal trainer. Mastering these basic movements sets the stage for success in other workouts.


What It's Not

Moves that work one muscle at a time aren't functional strength training (think bicep curls). Crouchelli explains that functional training exercises incorporate multiple muscles and joints at once to benefit the whole body, like lateral lunges and planks.

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Push, Pull, Core

Looking for a simple mantra to guide you through functional training? "Think push, pull, core," says Crouchelli. "You're using your core and muscles to stabilize your body while you push and pull weight."


It Prevents Injury

"Functional training makes you resilient to injury while strengthening the body," says Siroko. That's because it can improve core stability, which protects your joints and muscles from getting hurt as you move around, as research has found.


It Boosts Balance & Coordination

Working several muscles at once helps coordinate your body as a whole, says Siroko. Your core puts in overtime to stabilize your body during those exercises, which improves your overall balance. Talk about a win-win.


It Enhances Endurance

If you're short on time, try HIIT-style functional training — with exercises like jump squats and burpees — to drive up your heart rate in a flash. All that heart-pumping cardio can boost blood circulation and build your endurance over time.


It Improves Your Mood

"Regular training can help you be happier," says Siroko. "It's a way to get your energy out, re-center, release endorphins, and function properly." Those extra endorphins can give you that post-workout euphoria and help relieve feelings of stress and depression.


Get Started

"Ease in with bodyweight exercises to work the basic functional strength training patterns, like push-ups, planks, and squats," says Siroko. You can even use canned goods as weights or pull a towel apart as you row while holding a squat, suggests Crouchelli.

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