No matter your age or perceived ability, there are certain exercises that have incredible benefits for every body. These functional strength exercises mimic movements in our daily lives and help strengthen our core, made up of our abdominal wall, back and hips. Developing a strong core assists with proper postural alignment, decreases pressure on your back and knees and makes everyday activities easier.
To ensure safe execution, we have provided variations of each exercise with corresponding progressions once you have mastered a movement. Start with 8 repetitions of each exercise, working your way up to 12-15 reps (unless otherwise stated).
Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, erector spinae
Why: The squat is a compound movement that uses multiple muscle groups to improve balance and stability. The exercise helps create strong, flexible hips to sit and stand without discomfort or assistance and targets the gluteal and quadricep muscles to help relieve pressure from your back and knees as you walk up or down stairs.
Key points: Keep your weight in your heels as you push your hips back, keeping your knees tracking over your toes and your chest lifted. Push your heels into the floor to stand tall and complete one rep. Begin with unweighted squats, adding weight as you progress.
Progression Sequence: Wall, Air, Weights
Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals
Why: Like squats, lunges are compound movements and increase functional strength, balance and stability.
Key points: To perform a static lunge, keep your spine neutral as you extend your left leg directly behind you. Place the toes of your left leg on the floor as you slowly soften your knees, lowering your body toward the floor. Only go as low as you feel comfortable while keeping your pelvis and spine neutral and shoulders stacked on top of your hips. Drive upward through your legs to straighten them and complete one rep. Perform all reps with your left leg behind you, and then repeat the exercise with your right leg extended behind you. Begin with unweighted lunges, adding weight as you progress.
Progression Sequence: Static, Reverse, Alternate
Muscles worked: pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps, transversus abdominals, erector spinae
Why: Pushups develop postural support and upper-body strength to aid in your daily life as you push and reach for things.
Key points: Start with your knees or toes at hip-width (or a little wider than hip-width for more stability). Place your hands on the floor a little wider than your shoulders. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor while maintaining a neutral spine. Push back up to complete one rep, keeping your body in a straight line throughout the entire movement.
Progression Sequence: Elevated, Knees, Toes