What is Functional Strength Training?

What is Functional Strength Training?

What is Functional Strength Training Defined & Sample Workouts

Decades ago the phrase ‘functional strength training’ would have been redundant, as the goal of all weight training was to prepare for sport. But at the beginning of the 21st century most gym-goers were not looking to improve their performance in sport, but instead, were chasing aesthetics. 

Today, however, is a different story. The term ‘functional’ is being used more than ever and describes a certain type of training.

Functional Strength Training Defined

Functional strength training is a form of exercise that focuses on developing strength in patterns that are used in everyday life. This type of training involves free weights, gymnastic moves, and aerobic training. The word functional highlights how this type of training helps build a body that is better suited for the requirements of daily life and strength underlines how this type of training creates a body that is better at producing force. 

Who is Functional Strength Training for?

Functional strength training is a type of exercise that anyone can benefit from, as the goal of this training is to better prepare participants for their everyday lives. 


Side Note: In the market, there is a drastic need for functional fitness coaches as the population is as sick and unfit as ever. Learn how you can join us on our journey to change that in this free functional strength training coaching course.


How to do Functional Strength Training

One of the benefits of functional strength training is that it can be done with very minimal equipment. The foundation of functional training is built on six movement patterns: squat, lunge, push, pull, bend, and core. Training in these six movement patterns can be done in numerous environments including a garage gym, bix box gym (think Gold’s), school recreation center, functional fitness gym, OPEX Gym, and basically anywhere with space and some free weights.

How to start this type of training depends on your previous training history.

Beginner Functional Strength Training

When beginning functional strength training a trainee should focus on learning how to do the basic movement patterns and building motor control of their muscles. Since these trainees are so new they can train the full body multiple times a week, as they will be able to adapt and recover very quickly. These types of trainees would benefit from training under the watchful eye of a coach in a functional fitness gym.

Intermediate Functional Strength Training

After training consistently for a couple of years, participants in functional strength training are considered intermediates. These trainees should focus on a couple of the six-movement patterns in each training day. An example of an intermediates’ training day could include pulling and squatting on the same day. These clients will take longer to recover and need to spread out training between body parts to allow for adequate recovery

Advanced Functional Strength Training

The advanced trainee is someone who has been training for multiple years consistently. These trainees should only focus on one movement patterns per session, for example, bending. People in this category will progress slowly as their rate of adaptation will have slowed drastically. To continue their progression advanced trainees typically work with high-level fitness coaches.

Sample Functional Strength Training Program

Beginner Functional Strength Training Workout:

Beginner Functional Strength Training Workout

5 Minute Warmup on Bike or Treadmill

A1) Cable Split Squat @2121; 10-12 reps x 3 sets, rest 90 seconds (squat/lunge)

A2) Seated Cable Row @2121; 10-12 reps x 3 sets, rest 90 seconds (pull)

B1) Dumbbell Bench Press @2121; 10-12 reps x 3 sets rest 90 seconds (push)

B2) Single Leg Landmine Romanian Deadlift @2121 10-12 reps x 3 sets, rest 90 seconds (bend)

C) Front Leaning Rest (Plank) accumulate 2 minutes (core)


Intermediate Functional Strength Training Workout:

Intermediate Functional Strength Training Workout

5 Minute Warmup on Bike or Treadmill

Movement Specific Warmup

A) Deadlift @21X1; Build to a tough set of 8 (bend)

B) Barbell Bench Press @21X1; 6-8 reps x 5 sets, rest 2:00 minutes (push)

C1) Single Leg Hip Extension @30X2; 10-12 reps x 3 sets, rest 90 seconds (bend)

C2) Neutral Grip Single Arm Kettlebell Press @20X1; 10-12 reps x 3 sets, rest 90 seconds (push)


Advanced Functional Strength Training Workout:

Advanced Functional Strength Training Workout

5 Minute Warmup on Bike or Treadmill

Movement Specific Warmup

A) Seated Box Jump; 3-5 reps x 5 sets, rest 90 seconds (bend)

B) Clean Pull; 1-1-1 reps x 5 sets, rest 3 minutes (bend)

C) Deadlift @20X0; 2-3 reps x 4 sets, rest 3-4 minutes (bend)


Functional strength training is a form of exercise most people can benefit from and on top of that, there is a need for functional fitness coaches. As a functional fitness coach, you have the opportunity to impact many lives, while creating a sustainable and successful career.

The kicker? Becoming a coach doesn’t require a four-year degree. Learn the basics of functional fitness coaching and calculate how much you can make as a coach in our free Coach’s Toolkit.

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