Great Functional Exercises For A Stronger Core

Great Functional Exercises For A Stronger Core

Functional fitness training is a type of strength training that gets the body ready for daily activities. These exercises aim to equip the body for the types of moves it does in regular, everyday life. Motions like bending, twisting, lifting, loading, pulling, squatting, hauling, and pushing can be uncomfortable, or even cause injury, if the body isn’t ready for them. 

Most functional exercises focus on multi-joint movement patterns that involve the knees, hips, spine, elbows, wrists, and shoulders. Not only do functional exercises help you build strength in these areas, but they also help improve range of motion and mobility. Although these moves help the body in many ways, fitness experts recommend engaging in your regular workouts to complement the functional moves. The following exercises aim to strengthen your core and improve strength, stability, and mobility in the hips, pelvis, stomach, and lower back. 

Kneeling Windmill

Start in a half-kneeling position with your left knee on the ground and your right foot on the floor. Make sure that your right knee doesn’t go beyond your right toes. You can either hold a weight in your right hand or do this movement without weight at first. In a fluid motion, grab the weight with your right hand and extend it up overhead, opening your body just a little to the right as you lift. Keep your eyes on the weight and then return it to the floor in a controlled manner. Complete 10 reps on your right side and then switch to your left. Make sure you do two to three sets per side. 

Wood Chop

Stand up straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes turned out slightly. Grab a dumbbell with both hands and hold it on the outside of your left thigh. Lift the dumbbell up and across your body in a diagonal motion to the right, twisting your torso and pivoting your left foot. At the apex of the movement, the dumbbell should be slightly higher than your right shoulder and your left heel should be a little off the ground. Bring the weight back down to the left and continue until you complete 10 reps. Switch sides and then complete two more sets of 10 reps per side. 

Cross-Body Mountain Climbers

Begin in a high plank position, stacking your shoulders above your wrists and extending your feet back. Engage your glutes and chest muscles, aiming to make a straight line from your head to your heels. Keep your hips level and don’t let your back sag. Bring your right knee toward your left elbow, engaging your abs as you do so. Return your right foot to the starting position and then immediately repeat with your left leg. Continue switching sides for a total of 30 seconds and then stop and rest for one minute. Complete two more sets, resting for a minute between each set. 

Dead Bug Crunch

Lie flat on your back with your legs extended and both arms behind your head. Lift your feet off the ground and bend your knees, keeping your shins parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep your lower back on the floor throughout the duration of this exercise. With control, extend your right arm and right leg away from each other, engaging your abdominal muscles. Don’t let your limbs touch the ground and then bring them back to center by tightening your abs. Repeat the same movement on the other side and then return to center again. Continue alternating sides for 45 seconds and then rest for a minute. Complete a total of three sets. 

Side Plank Reach-Through

Begin by lying on your right side, propped up on your right elbow. Your elbow should be directly under your right shoulder to avoid excess pressure on the shoulder. Stack your left leg on top of your right and then press up, engaging your core to maintain a straight line with your body. Raise your left arm up toward the sky and direct your gaze to your left fingertips. Drop your left hand down and twist slightly to reach under towards the right side of your body, as though you are threading the needle. Keep your hips stacked and your body balanced as you rotate back and extend your left arm up again. Complete eight to 10 reps and then switch sides, completing a total of three sets.

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