The 7 Most Functional Movements

There are 7 movements that known as the most functional movements. These are the movements that the human body moves through (or at least should move through) on a daily basis. This is why they’re the ones we should do in the gym most often as well.

The conventional/commercial approach to fitness is machine based (often seated and with some resistance that usually focuses on one muscle group). There is a focus on aerobic over strength/function, and multiple “helpers”. These might be handles to hold onto and brace while doing hamstring curls, or a pull up machine with a platform that helps you lift yourself.

If you are a bodybuilder or physique competitor, this can be very helpful and important. But what if you are a human who just wants or needs to be stronger/healthier to live a longer and happier life? That is where functional movements come into play. 

So, what are the 7 most functional movements?


If you have ever sat down and stood up, you have done a squat. This movement can range in difficulty. Easiest is a supported squat, using something to hold onto as you sit/stand all the way. The hardest is an overhead squat or a pistol (single leg squat). These are many variations in between.


Ever bent down and picked something up off the ground? Congratulations, you have done a deadlift. There are also countless variations of the deadlift. You can also adjust the load and range of motion for any level of ability.


Lunges are quickly becoming one of my favorite movements. They have good transfer to walking/carrying and can be easier for beginners than a full on squat. You can easily adjust the load, and do these using each plane of the body. That is to say, they can be done forward, backward, sideways, and up/down.


Yes, of course pushing a sled looks cool and is what everyone pictures first. But presses also fall into this movement. Bench press is probably one of the most well known, but strict presses, jerks, seated presses and others are all part of this movement pattern.


Pull ups, rows, rope climbs, and band-pull aparts. The pull is such a simple and underestimated movement. I can promise the pull is used much more in daily life than we realize. It is definitely one of the most functional movements. Pull movements help us to develop nice strong back and shoulder muscles.


Everyone knows doing 1000s of sit ups a day will give you a strong core right? No, definitely not! Planks, side planks, weighted holds, crawls, and rocks are all great ways to build a stable core. The core is one area where, if you increase its stability and its strength, you will get stronger in every other movement. Core movements are not to be overlooked.


I would say general locomotion falls under this. Can you move yourself through time and space effectively? Can you do that with weight, and can you do it for short fast distances, can you do it with weight, or over varying terrain? Walking, crawling, running, or jumping? All of these seem and sound easy, but when you start adding weight or reliving a movement we have forgotten (the crawl), you start to increase the difficulty. 

Why to focus on these movements

The nice thing about the most functional movements is that they can be combined in an unlimited amount of ways and variety. On top of that, they are actual movements you will use in life – unlike some machines found at a commercial gym (pec-deck)!

Interested in starting functional fitness? We would love to guide you, contact us today to get started.


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