Personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach Travis Hansen answers the question, what is functional strength?

Functional strength – one of the main benefits of training with kettlebells – essentially means having the necessary strength to perform your daily tasks, whatever they may be, better and more efficiently.

Functional strength could also be viewed as ‘foundational strength’, because you are seeking to acquire a solid baseline of strength that can improve your ability to do just about anything.

In the sporting context, let’s take a basketball player looking to master a series of advanced dribbling and offensive moves. He can’t even begin to entertain the idea of complicated maneuvers until he first learns the basics of dribbling, body control and rhythm – among other things.

You’ve got to walk before you run. The same goes for developing a foundation of functional strength with weight training.

Master the basics first, then get creative and venture out to other exercises. In the gym, that means being able to squat, deadlift, press, push, pull, row and rotate – the fundamental movement patterns – with perfect form. Master those cornerstones of functional strength and you will enhance performance in every movement task.

Consider the whole spectrum of people who are working out. There’s the elderly man or woman building squat to stand strength, the recreational weekend warrior aspiring to be a triathlete, all the way up to a professional athlete required to master their entire athletic skillset and perform at the highest level.

Does every one of these individuals have to squat in some shape or form repetitively, day to day? Absolutely.

Look at every credible national-level personal training facility or strength and conditioning center in the world, and you’ll notice far more similarities than differences with exercise prescription, regardless of the type of clientele that they are working with.

They all focus on developing the basics of foundational strength. It is the simplest and most effective approach you can take.

Try our two-week functional movement training plan in January 2024.

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