A Functional Fitness Workout for Beginners

kettle bells are good for functional fitness workouts for beginners

I’ve talked about what functional fitness is in a prior post. I’ve also talked about how it’s a great idea to start a functional fitness habit as a means of getting fitter and healthier. But what about the actual “doing part”? How do you start doing functional fitness? Let’s get started with a functional fitness workout for beginners.

Well, we have to get to know some of the exercises as well as some of the formats. Now, I’m designing this as kind of a mix and match-style functional fitness workout. That is, you can take any of the exercises I’m giving you and just plug them in to any of the formats and you’ll have yourself a decent workout. I’m also going to give you the 10-minute version of each of these because that’s how I recommend getting started. But do know that you can make them longer just be extending the time.

Lastly, I’m designing these so that they can be done at home, outside, or in a gym, so they are fairly minimalist in their need for equipment. So let’s get into it!

The Exercises


The squat is the most important functional exercise in my opinion. It combines everything from leg strength, to core stability, to upper body strength if you’re holding weight. It is a basic element of dozens of different day-to-day movements and is essential do be able to do properly. When doing this exercise you can just do body weight squats or include some weights if you want to up the challenge. Also, check out my post on the importance of squatting properly.


Lunging is also a great exercise for building up the legs. This movement can be important for climbing stairs, maintaining balance in a narrow stance, and stepping over small lava pits without falling in. When lunging, make sure you’re staying up nice and tall with your torso and not leaning excessively in any direction. Again, weight or no weight is fine.

Hip Hinge

The hip hinge, which could also be called the deadlift, is a very important movement to help avoid back injury when lifting something from the ground. It also improves hip flexibility and core stability as well as general leg strength. I would recommend using some form of weight with this one and ensuring you’re keeping a flat back throughout the range of motion. If you do use weight, just hold it in front of you with your arms relaxed. This is a great one for your functional fitness beginners workout.

Side Lunge

Great for working those side hip muscles. The side lunge can help you build strength throughout your entire hip complex and improve movements like having to suddenly change direction or just lifting something heavy and awkward. Again, make sure you’re staying up as tall as you can when reaching the end of the lunge.

Dead Bug

If this feels like an easy exercise, you’re probably not doing it right. I’ve been developing my core stability for years and this one still gets my tummy burning if I do it for a minute straight. The key is to keep your back FLAT against the FLOOR the whole FUCKING time as well as to move in a slow and controlled manner while breathing deeply. See, this exercise is more complicated that you thought! It is also one of the best for developing deep core stability if done properly.

Bird Dog

Take the dead bug, flip it over, and make it twice as hard. That’s the bird dog. In addition to keeping your back flat, you need to make sure you’re not twisting at the hips as well since your back is no longer supported. Refer to the image below as an example.

Hip Twist

Warning, this exercise completely sucks… but in an awesome way. You basically hold a plank while twisting your hips from one side to the other, tapping the ground lightly as you do so. The important part is making sure you come back to a flat back position as when you started the plank. Note the two different variations shown below. Going down on your forearms is harder, as indicated by the extended middle finger…

Russian Twist

In this one, you hold the position as shown and twist at your trunk and tap the ground to either side of you. You can do this one holding a weight, a jug of milk, a cat, a baby, or an angry armadillo. The last one is definitely the most challenging version.

Overhead Press

The overhead press pretty much requires weights, but I would recommend starting light if you aren’t muscly in the upper body area. Take it from a person who also isn’t muscly in the upper body. It can be bad for your shoulders if you try to press too much weight all at once. So, again, start with your cat, baby, animal-human hybrid cat baby, or a jug of milk. Or just some dumbbells. Those would work too.

Push Up

Pretty much everyone knows what a push up is, so the only advice I’ll give here is start on your knees if you can’t do a proper push up, make sure your back stays flat through the whole range of motion, and don’t let your chest sink at the bottom of the push up.

Prone Pull Backs

These are so super good for your because they strengthen muscles in your back that are weakened by your shitty posture, Ted! Just kidding. We all have shitty posture. We all do everything we do in front of our bodies so our front upper body muscles get overused and our back ones get under used. This exercise helps even that out. I’d recommend doing these without weight to start out. When you add weight, just add a little.

Bent Rows

Another great one for the back but, again, it requires some amount of resistance. Most importantly, keep your back straight.

Warning, by the end of these workouts you might end up looking like this.

The Formats

You can use these formats to plug in the exercises above and get a good 10-minute workout. Again, you can alter the reps or time to go longer or shorter depending on what you want to get out of it,

  • 10 Reps per Minute, 1 Exercise, for 10 Minutes – 100 Reps Total!
  • 20 Reps of 5 Exercises for 10 Minutes
  • 45 seconds on, 15 Seconds Off for 10 Minutes

Start with 10 minutes a day, and see where it leads. You’ll be surprised how starting a fitness habit that you both enjoy and that fits into your schedule can lead you down a path of life-long training. And there you have it, not just one, but a whole “functional fitness workout for beginners” template.

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