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Increase Strength for Daily Activities

By kimfitness on Sep 02, 2012 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates

For most people, daily activities consist of some form of pushing, pulling, twisting, sitting, walking, lifting, and stepping. These movements might be monotonous and even become second nature to some but without exercise they can become more and more difficult. In fact, as you get older you tend to lose muscle tone, flexibility, and balance. Movements like walking up stairs, carrying groceries, and picking up objects or small children will become more of a burden if you don’t consciously work to keep those joints and muscles strong. 

Functional training programs work to do just that. This type of training incorporates movements that mimic daily activities and works to increase upper body strength, lower body strength, balance, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance.  By integrating some of the functional fitness workouts into your weekly fitness regimen you will be able to better execute the tasks demanded of you each day. 

The following exercise moves will be used in each of the workouts below. 

  1. Seated Torso Twist – Targets your torso and obliques and is great for strengthening your core. This move will help you reach behind you, reach up to grab things, and it will improve your posture. 

  2. Step-Up and Calf Raises – Step-ups target your quads (the front of your leg), glutes, and your hamstrings. You can increase the intensity by adding a set of dumbbells. The calf raises will help strengthen you lower legs. Both will make everyday tasks like walking, stepping into bed or out of cars, and even sitting a little easier. 

  3. Deadlifts - You can do this move with either a set of dumbbells, water bottles, or with no equipment at all. It targets your lower back, glutes and hamstrings and will help you pick up objects easier. 

  4. Chair Squat- Improve your balance with this move while building leg strength at the same time. Make sure your knees always remain behind your toes and be sure to sit your hips back. 

  5. Hammer Curls - You can do this move with either a set of dumbbells or water bottles if you have them. This really works your biceps and forearms to help with any lifting movement. 

Functional Workout No. 1

After warming up and stretching for 5-10 minutes, perform each of the exercises above for 2 minutes. Complete a 10 minute walk or slow jog on a treadmill or outside and end the workout by completing each of the exercises again for 2 minutes. 

Functional Workout No. 2

After warming up and stretching for 5-10 minutes. Complete each of the exercises above for 90 seconds. Then complete each of the exercises above for 60 seconds. Then complete each of the exercises for 30 seconds, then 60 seconds and then 90 seconds.  End the workout with 10 minutes of cardio

Functional Workout No. 3 

After warming up and stretching for 5-10 minutes. Complete 20 repetitions of each of the exercises above. Then, complete 2-3 minutes of any cardio move. Next, complete 15 repetitions of each of the exercises above followed by 2-3 minutes of any cardio move.  Continue on to do 10 repetitions of each of the exercises above followed by 2-3 minutes of any cardio move. End the workout with 5 repetitions of each move followed by 2-3 minutes of any cardio move.  Also visit me on my Facebook page to join in on the conversation and let me know what you think.  And don't forget to subscribe to my new (AND FREE) podcast found in your iTunes Store. Leave me a comment and rating on the first few episodes. See you next Sunday. 



A Functional Training Program is great. However, some of the exercises listed in this blog, as demonstrated in the illustrations, unnecessarily increase the risk of injury for the back. The one’s I am referring to are the Seated Torso Twist, Deadlift and Chair Squat. These exercises, when done as demonstrated, put unneeded stress on the vertebral disks of the low back. Twisting or bending of the low back should not be done.

Movement of the torso should come from the hips and shoulders. The torso should be locked in its natural curved position. This is a great movement strategy to use anytime you are moving the body. The Torso Twist overloads the back and can cause injury. The Deadlift is a great exercise; however, not everyone's hips are flexible enough to allow the spine to keep a natural posture when bent over. The discs of the back will pay the price eventually. I suggested doing the exercise but not bending as far at the hips. The Chair Squat, when done as demonstrated, also flexes the spine out of its natural position. This loads the discs of the back unnecessarily. Try this exercise with the feet wider than shoulders. Keep the upper body upright as you sit and rise from the chair.

Another great exercise is the One Hand Weight Carry. Complete this exercise by carrying a heavy weight in one hand as you walk. Keep an upright posture with your head back. Periodically change the hand carrying the weight. It's great for any age group as it trains core strength and posture. This exercise is very functional because we always need to carry stuff, and it trains us for carrying tasks such as a plastic-bag of groceries.

I gain nothing monetarily by referring this website: pdf. The link is a free hand-out on how to properly train core strength and stabilization in all exercises you do. I hand it out to my patients, clients and athlete's as a helpful resource. 

Sincerely, Marco S. Boscolo, Certified Athletic Trainer, LAT. 

Nice article.  Marco, thank you for your additional comments.  I've found out the hard way that doing exercises incorrectly can have really bad ramifcations.  The lower back in particular is at risk.


just get a decent horse and a good dressage trainer.  Trust me - after a big show yesterday, grooming and plaiting up four horses, taking five, riding one in two tests (I haven't ridden much lately been quite sick with pneumonia) today I am aching all over like I have been to the gym!!!  Fronts of thighs, aductors, biceps, shoulders, upper back muscles, obliques, abs ... who needs a gym when there is dressage!!!

I faithfully did my torso twists, power walking, machine lifting and crunches following my lap-band surgery. As a result I lost 90 pounds and 18 inches. My problem-I developed lower back, hip and leg pain. I am now recovering from a lumbar laminectomy. Yes, the exercising I did before hand has helped with my recovery. A week after teh surgery I am doing 5000 steps a day walking-Exercise is teh way to go.

Marco, you sound like you really know what you are talking about.  Do you have any suggestions for me?  I am 69, having an S-1 injection next week, and will be having a spinal lumbar decompression probably in about two to two and one half months from now.  I've been trying to be very careful of what I do and don't want to cause more damage before having surgery, though I understand it would help if I am in better physical shape.

great article and comments!!!  will incorporate all of these!!

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