Functional fitness sounds like it’s a trendy new workout that (falsely) promises to tone you up overnight, 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 of 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 than regular workouts. Can’t beat that!
Here are 10 of our favorite functional exercises to give you a full-body workout.
1. Medicine ball squat with overhead lift
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 with 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.
A version of this article was originally published in December 2008.