Create your home workout routine with functional training exercises

  By Arun Abraham  /  

Defining a home based functional workout routine that works all your muscles is challenging.

Moreover, you’ll have to adapt the workouts as your fitness level improves and add variety to your sessions so that you don’t get bored.

This post explains everything you need to know about functional training exercises and how to create your own short, high-intensity workouts.

We’ll also explain how to choose exercises from a list of over 100 functional exercises grouped by body parts and use our workout templates to create a variety of training sessions.

Included are videos and instructions to 10 of our favorite exercises that can be done at home.

What are Functional Training Exercises

Simply put, functional training consists of a group of exercises that enhance performance in everyday living and athletic training.

Functional exercises makes different muscle groups in your body to work together as opposed to focusing on specific muscles.

Because it simulates movements used in day-to-day activities, it strengthens the muscles that we are most likely to use.

This makes it more effective than strength training and helps us prevent injuries while toning the body.

Check out our detailed post about functional training to learn more about its principles and benefits.

Get personalized Functional Workouts on our App

Get 12 free workouts

Who should do functional workout routines

Functional training programs are meant to be customized per the individual’s lifestyle and goals.

On top of being short and highly efficient in burning fat, most functional exercises can also be done at home, the only equipment required being your own body.

So even if you have very little time, you can easily sneak in a quick workout routine from wherever you are.

If you are a beginner getting started with workouts, choose easier exercises and fewer repetitions.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that you do the exercises at the highest intensity that you can.

As you progress, you can vary different parameters such as the number of repetitions, intensity and duration of each workout.

Oh and don’t be fooled, you will need a towel after these HIIT routines whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete.

How to build your home workout routine with functional training exercises

Step 1: Choose the exercises

Since each functional exercise workout different muscle groups, you need not be very specific while choosing exercises.

However, we recommend that you include at least one exercise each these four groups in your sessions:

  • Full-body
  • Core
  • Upper body
  • Lower body 

If you wish to lose weight, include more full-body exercises – Star Jumps or Burpees – which engage many muscles of your body and help you burn fat more efficiently.

Including exercises such as Pushups helps you get stronger on your upper body and Squats are the main exercise to improve your lower body strength.

In addition to the 10 functional exercises given below, here’s our list of over 100 functional exercises grouped by body parts for you to choose from.

Step 2: Choose the type of workout routine

There are many ways in which you can mix these exercises to create your own workout routines.

An easy but highly effective functional workout routine for all levels is Tabata Training.

Tabata is a popular form of HIIT that consists of eight rounds of high intensity exercises.

Although you are only working for 4 minutes for each exercise, performing the same movement at your highest intensity is what makes Tabata so effective.

Example:

  • Do 8 rounds of push ups of 20 seconds at maximum intensity + 10 seconds of rest
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Do 8 rounds of lunges of 20 seconds at maximum intensity + 10 seconds of rest
  • Repeat the routine for each exercise you choose.

Another simple session is Interval Repetitions where you complete the specified number of laps of an exercise circuit in the least time possible.

Example:

4 laps of the following circuit without rest in between

  • 15 squats
  • 5 burpees
  • 8 push ups
  • 15 seconds of plank

Choosing the repetitions for each exercise could be based on your fitness level for each body part. If you have strong legs, challenge yourself with more repetitions of lower body exercises.

For more variety in your workout flow, check out the different varieties of training sessions available in the Mammoth Hunters training program.

Hundreds of video guided workouts on our App

Get 12 free sessions

The 10 Best Functional Training Exercises (with videos)

Below we have provided some quick functional exercises that can be done in short, efficient intervals (HIIT) to not only strengthen your muscles or lose weight but also to improve your cardiovascular and overall health.

For your convenience, we have compiled these exercises into a youtube video playlist.

1) Burpees

Classic of classics!  Ideal for working the cardiovascular system and your lactate tolerance at home.

Given that you’re mobilizing a lot of muscle chains all at once, this movement is convenient for those days when you don’t have much time and all you want is a quick session.

Advantages

You’re activating almost the whole body.  The muscles used are: deltoids, biceps, triceps, pectorals, obliques, abdominals, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calfs.  Using a global selection of muscles is part of what makes this functional training.

Since energy is sent to many muscles all at once, the heart and lungs are stretched to their maximum capacity as well.  It is by far the best exercise to burn calories fast!

How to do it

A burpee is a complex movement divided into 4 parts.

  1. Start off standing, legs slightly apart and arms stretched out close to the body.
  2. Drop to the ground face down, cushioning the fall with your hands till the whole body is completely touching the ground.
  3. Keeping your hands down, jump the feet forward to level with the hands.
  4. Stand up finishing with a vertical jump and clap behind your head.

What to keep in mind

The clap should be behind your head.  The chest must touch the floor. 

Beginner notes

There are a lot of different versions of burpees to get you started and to build up your skill.  It’s important to follow a precise technique for any functional training, even if it means completing a lower level burpee like a “Semi Burpee” shown above.

  1. Start off standing with legs slightly apart and arms close to the body.
  2. Go down into a squat till the hands touch the floor.
  3. Step both feet back one at a time to a push up position.
  4. Walk feet back into the squat position.
  5. Stand up with a vertical jump and clap behind your head.

Functional exercises, video guided, super efficient. Do it in privacy from anywhere.

Get Started

2) Squats

Great exercise for your legs.  Lots of variations allowed.

Advantages

The squat is a staple of functional training to help get your legs in shape along with strengthen your jump (you know, to hop over rocks while chasing a mammoth, or over a spider when trying to get to the toilet in the morning). It is very beneficial for those who spend a great deal of time sitting down because it not only relieves your stiffness, but also improves your overall posture.

Squats have a bad reputation for wearing out knee joints, but studies indicate that they are only dangerous if they are not done correctly with or without weights.

How to do it

To get them right, you must:

  1. Start in a standing position, legs shoulder-width apart, back straight, and knees over your feet.
  2. Bend the hips and knees to about 90 degree angle without letting the knees go past the line of your feet on the floor.  You can also stretch your arms out in front of you at shoulder height.
  3. Rise back to your original position.

What to keep in mind

Always keep your back straight.  As you flex your hips, the knees shouldn’t go in front of your feet. Keep going down till your hips are in line or below your knees.

Beginner notes

There isn’t a beginners version.  This exercise has to be done properly from the start.

3) Plank

Advantages

The plank has grown very popular for people wanting to increase their core strength. It’s one of the best exercises for abs and is a functional training classic. It makes our best home workout well-rounded by supporting the muscles we need most in every position!

It groups together muscles from the abdominal area as well as muscles in your arms and legs.  The many benefits offered are a strong, firm stomach, less back pain, and general flexibility in the posterior muscle groups.

How to do it

  1. Start laying on the ground supporting yourself with your forearms and toes.
  2. Keep the legs, trunk and head stretched out in a line parallel to the ground.
  3. Keep this position for as long as it is required (minimum 10 seconds) and rest before the next round.

What to keep in mind

Keep the body straight and the abs working.  If you think your bottom is sagging towards the floor it’s better to carry on with the knees supported.  (If you modify as needed and practice this movement, you’ll master the plank in no time!)

Beginner notes

There are a variation of planks to help get started on working the abdominal area. try following the instructions above but dropping the knees to the ground until you feel enough strength and confidence to do the usual plank.

4) Push ups

Advantages

Probably the most popular way to build overall strength at home.

This exercise mainly works on the larger pectoral muscle.  When done correctly, it works simultaneously on the anterior deltoids, the brachial triceps, and all the stabilizing muscles of the trunk.  This functional training movement will give you strength, shape, and agility to get up from the ground.

How to do it

  1. Lay on the ground face down and hands level with your chest.
  2. From there, push up with your hands to lift the body, keeping it in a straight line.
  3. Go back to the original position, supporting the chest (not the pelvis).

What to keep in mind

Be sure to squeeze your abdominals while pushing your body up to ensure that your body is straight and has correct form.

Beginner notes:

If you still do not have enough strength in your arms to string together consecutive push ups, you can rest the knees on the ground to support the posture.  Remember that technique is the most important aspect of any movement and if you think this way of doing push ups is easy, you’re making a big mistake!

5) McKenzie

This is the exercise to help your back recover from days of hard work and you’ll increase lumbar flexibility.

Advantages

This exercise arose from massage therapy and has been recommended by physiotherapists and chiropractics for the last twenty years. Its success is rooted in its simplicity.  It helps to correct back posture and works the muscles in the lumbar region.  These muscles tend to atrophy in most people because we sit for too long.

How to do it

  1. Stretch out face down with your hands on the ground at shoulder height.
  2. By pushing up, extend your arms completely raising your upper body and neck, but keeping your hips on the floor.
  3. Go back to the first position.

What to keep in mind

Carry out the movement to its fullest extent.  Keep shoulders relaxed and hips on the floor.  If the hyperextension is painful for you, avoid this workout.

Beginner notes

There is no beginners version. Remember this workout is very beneficial for those with back problems so you shouldn’t hesitate to do it often.

6) Lunges

Advantages

Lunges work on the whole of the lower extremities.  Among others muscles, they work on the glutes, abductors, rectus abdominis, and soleus. If you’re a runner, you’ll soon notice your increased pace and feel as light as a gazelle.

How to do it

  1. Starting from an upright standing position, take one step forward.
  2. Go down keeping your upper body upright till the back knee touches the floor.
  3. Return to the starting position by stepping your other foot backward.

What to keep in mind

Go down in a completely vertical plane.  The descent should be gradual until the knee reaches the floor.  The front knee should not extend beyond the line of the foot.

Beginner notes

This is the most basic version: there are no modifications of this movement.

7) Pull ups

For a long time, physical activity was an essential, life-saving part of being a human being.  If a predator attacked or fruits were needed from high branches of the tree, humans had to have the ability to lift their body vertically to get up it.  This is what we are essential doing with pull ups.

Advantages

Pull ups are a complete exercise that rapidly increases the strength in your arms and torso.  There are lots of variations of pull ups. They are a great indicator of your muscular strength and if you don’t have much time, just a few repetitions each day will keep your arms and upper body in shape.

How to do it

  1. Holding on to a bar with your arms extended, let your weight drop as you hang from the bar, but maintaining strength in your shoulders.
  2. From this position, bend the elbows and raise the body till your chin reaches the height of the bar, keeping your back straight.
  3. Return to the starting position.

What to keep in mind

  • Keep your arms well extended during the descent.
  • Relax the occipital region.
  • Keep your back straight.

Beginner notes

This is one of the most difficult functional training exercises to master as a beginner, but it will provide you with the best home workout you’re after.

We suggest you master the pull up by starting with our step by step version of completing the pull up.  From there, you can increase the intensity  day by day.  Above you’ll see a video that explains how to do a pull up step by step.

8) Two Leg Mountain Climber

Great exercise.  It’ll definitely show your weaker points.  This movement is a little different than the traditional mountain climber–the cardio benefits it induces will leave you sweaty and feeling like you had the best home workout ever!

If want to work on your cardio endurance, increase the pace of your feet.  After completing multiple reps without rest, you will feel it working your. But if anything, your shoulder muscles will be the first to wear out.

Advantages

It mainly works on the cardiovascular system and lactic acid tolerance.  You will gain agility and resistance to help in your everyday life.

How to do it

  1. Start in the Mckenzie position.
  2. In just one movement, bring both legs forward to reach the hands, as outstretched as possible.
  3. Return to the initial position.

What to keep in mind

This is an explosive movement.  Try to keep as straight as possible after the jump.

Beginner notes

As a variation you can move one leg forward at a time until you are confident with this workout.

9) V-Sit ups

The chief function of the abdominal muscles is stability.  In this exercise you’re trying to reduce the support by using your extended arms as leverage to make the abs work harder.

This challenging core exercise is essential in creating the best home workout you can have, so don’t skip it!

Advantages

This workout is known to be one of the most effective for toning up the stomach: however it takes great flexibility to do it properly and avoid injury or shoulder pain.

How to do it

  1. Lie down on your back on the floor, arms stretched out above your head.
  2. Raise the legs and arms at the same time to touch your feet with your hands.
  3. Go back to the original position but without the feet or back touching the ground to start a new round.

What to keep in mind

  • Keep the arms and legs straight. Lift the trunk till you can reach the tips of the toes.
  • Go down with a controlled movement.  To modify, lift one leg at a time. Don’t worry if you if it’s difficult to reach your toes at first, don’t force it, your flexibility will increase over time.

Beginner notes

This exercise needs a certain amount of practice to be done properly.  To continue working working the abdominal region you can replace it with a half-v:

  1. Lie on your back on the ground with your arms by your sides and hands on your hips.
  2. Gently lift the upper body and legs without bending them and stay on the ground supported only by the buttocks.
  3. Lift the knees to the chest, bending the legs and trunk, keeping the hands on the floor.
  4. Go back to the former position without letting legs or spine touch the ground.

10) Star jump

Jumping is an action we’ve all done since we were younger in PE class. Recover this basic human function and enjoy yourself while having a good workout at the same time.

Advantages

The star jump raises the heartbeat considerably so you’ll be working the cardiovascular system. You got it, cardio benefits in minutes. That’s the magic of functional training.

At the same time, it lifts the body to its full height and improves posture.

How to do it

  1. From an upright position, hands on knees, jump straight up and extend the arms and legs backwards like a star.
  2. On landing, adopt the start position again.

What to keep in mind

Stretch out the fingers and toes during the jump.  Cushion the landing.

Beginner notes

As we’ve mentioned before, we’ve all jumped in our lives, so you’re you can do it!

Want to workout anywhere? Workout plans on your phone.

Start Training Now

What next?

We’ve provided you resources for the best home workout to challenge yourself and a Youtube playlist.

If the exercises start becoming easy, check out our exercise list  and you’ll find more challenging alternatives for each exercise.

Or, for a real challenge, get our personal trainer app.

You have 12 sessions for free to try out and a year of PRO costs less than a personal training session.

It ensures that you continuously challenge your muscles by varying the reps, types of exercises, and intensity based on your progress – all from the comfort of your home.

Oh, and it comes with an integrated nutrition plan with simple recipes tailored to your your needs.

Last updated:

Leave a Reply