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5 Steps To Master Functional Training


Prepare your body for activity with this focus on natural movement, says Ben Isaacs

Back-to-basics functional training, which focuses on developing your body for useful everyday movements, is now an established element of most gyms. Why is this? “It helps you develop a body that looks good and is fit for life,” says Tom Gilbert, personal trainer at LAX South Kensington. “It’s about being agile, able to handle everyday loads, staying healthy and strong.” Starting out can be daunting, so here Gilbert offers a routine that will work for everyone.

1. Bag round-the-world

“Pick up a sandbag or Bulgarian bag, holding the tapered ends and looping straps around your wrists. With the bag hanging loose in front of your body, pull with one arm to begin an arc around and behind your head (pictured above). Build up momentum, moving your hips and knees to assist the ‘round-the-world’ movement. Keep your arms and the bag close to your head as it circles. Do 10-12 circles in each direction."

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2. Kettlebell squat-to-press

“Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a light kettlebell in each hand at shoulder height. Squat down and, as you power up to standing, press both kettlebells over your head until your arms are straight. Bring the bells back to shoulder height, and repeat for 12-15 reps.”

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3. Inverted row on the rig

“Select a low bar on the functional training rig. Lie underneath it, face up, with the bar above chest height. Take hold of the bar with an underhand grip. Raise your body so you are resting on your heels, with your body perfectly straight (no sagging at the bottom or back). Pull your chest up to meet the bar by rowing your elbows back and down, aiming to bring elbows behind the body. Pause at the top before slowly lowering to the start position, and do 10-12 reps.”

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4. Leg raises on the rig

“Hold on to a high bar on the rig (stand on a box if necessary). Hang with legs straight. Curl your legs up with bent knees, concentrating on drawing the abdominal muscles in and feeling a deep contraction. Pause briefly at the top of the curl before slowly lowering the legs. Do 8-10 reps.”

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5. Battling ropes finisher

“Fix the battling ropes to a secure anchor point, take the ends of the ropes (one in each hand) and stand facing the anchor point. Move backwards until there is just a small amount of slack in the ropes. Using alternate arms, lift and lower the ropes in a ‘wave’ motion. Use your knees, hips and body to drive momentum and keep the ropes moving, and think about ‘slamming’ the ropes down into the ground. Be aggressive and complete 15 to 20 continual reps."

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