The Best Exercises For A Strong and Functional Body.

We all know that to get strong we need to train our bodies against resistance. This resistance, whether it be body weight, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, bands or any other form, should be progressive over time to allow your body to adapt and become stronger from the training stimulus.


Progressive overload is one of the fundamental principles of strength training and when done correctly can lead to the desired strength improvements. 


There are a million (or more!) exercises out there, but how do you know which ones are right for you and which ones to focus on?


The exercises below are some examples of the best exercises that almost everyone can do to improve strength, mobility and functional ability in sport, activity and daily life. If you are unsure about any of the tips below be sure to have a chat to a coach to determine what is best for you and your goals. 


There is nothing fancy here, as mentioned almost everyone can do all of these exercises and variations can be made for different people and different circumstances. 


  1. Squats: include body weight, back squats, front squats, goblet squats and many other variations. The squat is a fundamental movement and can improve strength of the quads, glutes, hamstrings, hips and low back. The squat is a movement that is used in everyday life so being strong in the squat can help in performing everyday tasks and reduce pain and discomfort.
  2. Deadlifts: similar to squats in being a lower body strength exercise but involves more of the posterior chain therefore is a great exercise for strengthening glutes, hips, back, core and improving posture and correcting muscular imbalances. If you sit a lot throughout the day then mastering the deadlift can help improve your posture and strengthen your hips and glutes. Deadlift variations can also be great for improving low back pain and decreasing injuries in this area. 
  3. Lunges: a knee dominant exercise that can help improve strength of each leg individually and correct imbalances, reduce knee pain and improve stability and range of motion. If you are an active person playing sports or running then developing strength and stability is great for improving performance and reducing injuries. For daily life the lunge is important in walking up stairs or hills and can help in getting up and down off the floor, in and out of the car etc.
  4. Push ups: a classic fundamental exercise. We have all done them, some better than others, but improving your push ups can lead to improved upper body strength, core strength and shoulder stability. When performing push ups be sure to keep your core engaged and keep your body in a straight line. When able to do push ups efficiently other pressing exercises like bench press can take your strength to the next level!
  5. Pull ups: a challenging exercise but everyone can benefit from working on improving their pull ups! The best exercise for strengthening upper back and shoulders that can improve posture and shoulder health. Again, this is important to correct the effects of our daily lives including prolonged sitting and poor postural habits. If you find pull ups hard there are several ways to modify them to get you started or if you can perform full range body weight pull ups adding weight to your body can be an awesome way to further improve your strength.

Written By Aaron Ashdown, Exercise Physiologist & Trainer at Movement Innovation


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