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10 full-body exercises that tone everything in one fell swoop

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

These fitness moves that work several muscles at once will trump leg day

Functional fitness kinda sounds like it's a trendy new workout that (falsely) promises to tone you up over night, but don't let the alliteration in the name fool you.

Turns out, functional fitness is serious business — and has tons of benefits for your body. By performing exercises that mimic movement that you would do out in the "real world," you target multiple muscle groups and reap full-body benefits in less time.

After just a couple sessions, you'll start to improve endurance, balance, posture, strength, coordination and agility from head to toe. And because you have to use your brain to do the moves, time goes by faster then regular workouts. Can't beat that with a stick!

Here are 10 of our favorite functional exercises to get you started:

1. Medicine ball squat with overhead lift

These fitness moves that work several muscles at once will trump leg day
Image: Tiffany Egbert/SheKnows

Functionality: Even though you lift your kids and groceries with your arms, your legs and back are also key players. This exercise strengthens your legs, glutes, lower back, arms and shoulders.

Exercise: Stand with your feet wide apart, holding a light medicine ball in front of you in both hands. Squat down, moving your rear back and keeping your knees over your ankles, and lower the medicine ball to the floor, keeping your head up and back straight (don't hunch). Return to the start position, and lift the medicine ball over your head. Repeat the squat, and lower ball to the ground. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions. Increase the weight of the ball as you get stronger.

Next Up: More functional exercises for full-body fitness

Originally published Dec. 2008. Updated November 2016.

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