Functional Fitness

What is functional fitness?

Functional fitness can be defined as the ability to perform your day to day tasks easily - things like getting out of bed, picking items up off the floor, climbing the stairs or carrying groceries.  These are the types of activities that no one wants to struggle with.  Fortunately, we can train for our activities of daily living (ADL'S) without buying special equipment or joining a gym.  Let's look at five basic functional fitness exercises that can be practiced at home.

Basic Squat

The squat is an excellent exercise for functional fitness.  How many times a day do we need to sit down and get up?  To perform this exercise correctly, set the feet shoulder width apart.  Feet can be parallel or toes can be slightly turned out.  Keeping the chest up, lower the hips while keeping the knees back behind the toes.  Press through the heels to come back up.

Lunge with floor touch

This exercise helps us to bend down safely and reach things on the floor.  Step back with one leg while bending the opposite knee.  Keep the bent knee stacked over the ankle as you reach towards the floor with the opposite hand.

Single-arm Row

The row targets the muscles we use to pull with.  You can use any type of weighted object to practice this exercise.  Holding the weight in one hand, step back with the same-side leg.  Hinging at the hips, lean forward while supporting the upper body with the arm on the thigh.  Pull the weight up toward the waist, bending at the elbow.


Using a stair, curb or steady stool, step up with alternating feet.  Make sure the foot is fully on the step to prevent slipping.  This exercise aids our ability to climb stairs, ladders or even the steps to the slide at the playground!

The Get-up

The Get-up, either with or without added weight is a wonderful exercise for training the core.  This exercise gives us the necessary strength to easily get out of bed or up off the floor. While lying down  hold a weight up in one hand (if using) and roll up onto the opposite elbow then lift the torso up until the supporting arm is straight.  Stop here for a half-get-up.  Or bend the opposite knee and press all the way up to a standing position.