Functional Training for Beginners: How Moving Well Can Improve Your Daily Life

Crossfit, Fitness

We talk about CrossFit all the time, and what CrossFit is, is something which in more general terms is known as functional training. If this concept is completely new to you, then you might be wondering what all the fuss is about, and why so many people are working functional fitness programmes into their workout routines.

In this article, we’re going to cover the absolute basics of what functional training is, and how you can use it to improve your fitness, as well as your day-to-day wellbeing.

Functional Training for Beginners Velites

Why is it called functional training?

This is the part which usually has people confused straight off; what’s so functional about CrossFit and programmes which call themselves CrossFit, compared to the straight running, lifting or bodybuilding you might be used to?

Let’s be clear: we’re not here to put down running, swimming, rowing or whatever else it is that you might be doing. They’re all types of functional fitness, too, we’re just focused on the kind of activities you might have seen our Velites athletes doing.

CrossFit Functional workouts - Mitchell Adams - Vrope Fire 2.0

CrossFit defines its goal as building ‘general physical preparedness’. That’s a pretty decent definition of what functional training is all about. Functional training works your entire body, getting you to move in every direction, so that you’re ready for whatever life might throw at you.

More specifically, functional training is focused on getting different parts of your body to work together. If you’re a regular gym rat, for example, you might spend a lot of time isolating particular muscles. With functional training, you’ll use your legs and core, in conjunction with your back and shoulders. It’s a full-body workout, but one which happens all at once, not in isolated stages.

Functional training for injury prevention

Functional training promotes greater bodily awareness, which can put you better in-tune with what your body is telling you. When your body is working a whole, as one connected machine, it’s far less likely that you’re going to encounter injuries, aches and pains in your daily life.

It can be as simple as strengthening your core to take pressure off your lower back, and being mindful of where your head is, in relation to the rest of your body, for example, can help to reduce neck pain. It’s all stuff you’ll learn as you start to work more functional movements into your routine.

It’s about getting back in touch with the way your body is supposed to move. Most of us spend too much time sitting down or moving in repetitive patterns. What functional training does, is to re-introduce the kind of movements you might have made as a child — squatting, jumping, climbing, pushing and pulling. Functional training is about using your body the way it’s meant to be used.

Velites recommends: Velites Fire 2.0 jump rope with weighted handles.

5 Functional Routines to Try at Your Gym (Maybe)

All of these routines come courtesy of, and the master of functional fitness training, Ben Bergeron. Bergeron currently programmes for some of the best CrossFit athletes in the world, and his training routines have created champions in both the men’s and women’s divisions. For each routine, we’ve outlined what makes it such a great example of functional training.

Note: You might not be advanced enough to give all of these a shot, but this gives you a good idea of what functional training is all about.

3 Rounds For Time:

400m TrueForm Run (you can use a treadmill or run outside)

10 Clean and Jerks (155/105)

20 Chest-to-bar Pull-ups

Why this workout is great: Functional training combines cardiovascular endurance with strength and technique. This workout has all three. Because it’s only three rounds, it’s designed to be a sprint, so it’s about how well you can maintain your form on those barbell clean and jerks, after running 400m.

Then, when you’re onto the pull-ups, how well can you well can you move your whole body to get maximum efficiency from the movement?

For time:

135-lb. thrusters, 15 reps

135-lb. sumo deadlift high pulls, 21 reps

135-lb. thrusters, 12 reps

135-lb. sumo deadlift high pulls, 15 reps

135-lb. thrusters, 9 reps

135-lb. sumo deadlift high pulls, 9 reps

Functional training - Jessica Vetter - Vrope Fire 2.0

Why this workout is great: This is a classic push-pull combination which will test your strength and raise your heart rate. If you’re going to make the most of it, you’re going to have to watch your form, too, which adds another level of complexity.

For time:

Run 800 meters with a 25-lb. plate

Then, 14 rounds of:

5 strict pull-ups

4 burpee box jumps, 24-in. box

3 cleans, 185 lb.

Then, run 800 meters with a 25-lb. plate

Why this workout is great: Sticking a run at the beginning and end of this workout forces you to consider your pacing, as does the 14 rounds of work. This workout is an almost perfect example of full-body functional fitness, involving your cardiovascular system, push and pull movements, as well as strength and gymnastics.

3 rounds for time:

One minute of 135-lb. back squats

Rest one minute

One minute of chest-to-bar pull-ups

Rest one minute

One minute of 135-lb. power cleans

Rest one minute

Why this workout is great: With rest programmed into the workout, you’re expected to go hard during those minutes of work. This an opportunity to test how well your upper and lower body can communicate, so that you get the absolute best performance possible.


Power Snatch (75/55)

Wallballs (20/14)

Cal Row

Why this workout is great: Whenever you see a descending rep scheme in a functional training workout, it usually means ‘sprint’. But, when that same workout involves a calorie row, the workout becomes more of a technical exercise. This is a great workout for combining push and pull movements, alongside sustained high-level endurance.

Increase Fitness, Movement and Awareness

You might also find that once you start training functionally, that you save a hell of a lot of time. That’s because rather than isolating muscle groups and working them separately, you’ll work them together, forming yourself into a healthier, fitter, stronger, more hard-wearing person.

Our best advice, is to give this kind of training a try for 30 days, and if you start to notice a difference in your movement patterns and overall physical health, then you’re well on your way to a fitter, stronger self.

CrossFit Functional training - Vrope Fire 2.0
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Graeme Keeton

Written by Graeme Keeton

Graeme is a copywriter based in the United Kingdom. He provides the copy for our social media channels and newsletter, in addition to articles covering the CrossFit scene in Europe and the U.S.


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