4 Easy At-Home Functional Exercises

By: Kelly Bentley - Advanced Holistic Health Practitioner Mar 29, 2016
Functional Exercise Explained, Soulely You Holistic, Burlington, ON

Here are a few tips to get you started!

What are Functional Exercises? 

Functional exercises, also known as “Primal Pattern Movements” are the basic movements that the human body was designed to perform on a regular basis that are necessary for us to function optimally in our daily lives. It is essential for us to practice these specific movements during our workouts to keep the body properly mobile as we live day to day and especially as we age. The following exercises are excellent for beginners (and everyone else as well!) to incorporate into their exercise routines.

Pushing - Around The Worlds:

In this day and age, with the typical western lifestyle, most of us are living in a way that is constantly rounding our shoulders forward. Hunched over our desks and computers, while driving, etc. The around the worlds exercise targets our essential "pushing" muscles while keeping our shoulders nice and open.

Primary Muscles Targeted: Chest

Secondary Muscles Targeted: Shoulders 

1.Lie face up on a flat bench. Hold a free weight in each hand, with your arms parallel to the floor and by your sides, palms face up. Your hands will be next to your thighs. Be sure to keep your elbows slightly bent to prevent injury. This will be your starting position.

2.Move the dumbbells in a semi-circle from the start position to over your head. The arms stay parallel to the floor at all times. Think of this action as if you were making a snow angel. 

3.Inhale as you move the weights overhead and exhale as you return your arms back to the start position. *Tip: Lie face up on a stability ball, shoulder blades on the centre of the ball, head resting on the ball with your hips completely off the ball. Focus on keeping the hips lifted for the duration of the exercise. 

Pulling - Reverse Fly:

Much like the Around the Worlds pushing exercise, the reverse fly is a fantastic pulling exercise that works at strengthening the areas of the shoulders that keep them open, counteracting the forward rounding we are all subject to!

Primary muscles worked: Shoulders

Secondary muscles worked: Upper Back

1.Stand with feet a comfortable distance apart, knees slightly bent. Keeping the back straight (think about sticking your chest and back side out) lean the upper body forward on a 45 degree angle, so that your spine is almost parallel with the floor. Keep your ears over your shoulders. Have the free weights in each hand, with your arms extended downwards, palms facing each other. This will be your start position. 

2. Maintaining a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights up on either side of you until your arms are in line with your body. Do not let your arms come up past your back. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you raise the weights. 

3. Slowly lower the weights back down to the start position. Inhale as you lower the weights, exhaling as you raise them up.

Lunging - Walking Lunges:

There are so many things we do daily that mimic lunging. Our legs are also the biggest calorie burners in the body, so it’s very beneficial to add at least one of a variety of different lunging exercises to any workout routine. 

Primary muscles worked: Quadriceps 

Secondary muscles worked: Calves, Glutes & Hamstrings

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells down by your sides in each hand. This will be your start position.

2. Step forward with your right foot a generous distance but not so far that you lose your balance. While keeping the torso upright, lower your upper body downward until your left knee is just above the floor. Make sure that your front knee stays directly over your front ankle and does not move past the toes. Inhale as you lower down and exhale as you return to standing.

3. Step your left foot in to meet your right foot and continue forward with the left leg.

4. Alternate legs as you lunge walk forwards. If you’d like to challenge yourself a bit, practice walking backwards when you reach the end of the room. Remember to keep the front knee directly over the front ankle!

Squatting - Goblet Squat:

Squatting is anther movement we do each and every day. This should be another movement that continues to be easy to perform daily and as we age.

Primary muscles worked: Quadriceps

Secondary muscles worked: Glutes, Calves, Hamstrings & Low Back 

1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly pointed outward. Hold one dumbbell with both hands vertically in front of your chest. Keep your head up and your back straight at all times. This will be your start position.

2. Bend your knees and lower the body downward, sitting your weight back and down into your heels. Stop lowering when the angle between the upper leg and the calves becomes slightly less than 90-degrees. Focus on making sure that your knees do not come past your toes. There should be an imaginary straight line connecting your knees and your toes that remains perpendicular to the front. 

3. Inhale as your lower down, exhaling as you stand back up. 
 *Tip: You can practice this facing a wall to get the hang of the leg position, the wall will act as a guide to keep your knees from moving past your toes.

Kelly Bentley from Soulely You Holistic Wellness uses her knowledge and skill set, to work one on one assessing clients physically, as well as metaphysically (that which is beyond what presents itself physically in the body). She has a solid knowledge base of bioenergy (the various human energy systems) the different stages of infant development, and how these correlate to a physical structure, mental emotional capacity, personality, disposition and perception. She appreciates socio-cultural correlations, as well as psychospiritual influences (pertaining to the relationship between spirituality and the mind), unearthing the root cause of mental and physical symptoms that often get overlooked by other medical professionals, giving the most comprehensive care possible.