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5 CrossFit Basics To Build Functional Strength with Devina Pronolo

You bend down to lift a heavy bag from the floor, and snap - you’ve thrown out your back. Everyday movements can leave even marathon runners and muscle-bound weightlifters writhing in pain, which is why incorporating functional fitness training is so important.

Functional fitness focuses on exercises that mimic everyday life movement patterns, this includes squatting, reaching, rotating, picking things up from the floor, and putting things away over your head. These types of exercises put less wear and tear on muscles and joints, and help improve coordination, balance, and stability.

To keep your body in top shape, it’s important to incorporate functional fitness into your workouts. Follow Devina Pronolo as she shows you 5 basic functional movements and exercises that help strengthen your body.

Here are some tips for the moves. For beginners, you are recommended to start at 10-12 Reps x 3 Sets per exercise, at 60% of your 1 rep max. As you progress, you can adjust to lift heavier (85% of your 1 rep max) and decrease yours reps whiles increasing the number of sets (eg. 5 reps x 5 sets). Work to keep the intensity high and do not rest more than 60 seconds between sets. Most importantly be safe and feel free to adjust the weight and amount of sets based on your personal capacity.


1. Pull-Ups (10 reps x 3 sets)

Tip: If you want your lats to become stronger and more developed, then keeping your elbows under the bar matters. It will also make it much easier to get your chest up when the elbows aren’t held too wide. All of this means more back stimulation and a good quality pull.

Benefits: This is one of the best all-around movements for your core and upper body, and pull-ups primarily target your latissimus dorsi (lats) the biggest muscle group in your upper body. This is the muscle, that when developed, gives men that desired ‘V’ shaped look. It will help your shoulders look bigger and your waist smaller.


2. Handstand (10 reps x 3 sets)

Tip: Start by supporting your weight against a wall and getting used to the movement and position. As you get stronger you can inch away from the wall but be patient, for most people this does not happen overnight.

Benefits: Your core will be challenged from moving your legs above your body to keeping your balance.

3. Back Squat (10 reps x 3 sets)

Tip: Failing to squat deep consistently is the worst mistake a squatter can make. The best way to avoid this fault is to start squatting with bodyweight or a lightly loaded bar. This helps you engrain technical patterns important for mobility and flexibility so you can hit proper depth with a flat spine. Repeating this process helps the body adapt to the desired position because the posterior chain muscles learn to fire hard.

Benefit: Aside from your legs, your back is the big group being worked here. Don't forget the leg drive as you come up which also benefits your lower body.


4. Shoulder Press (10 reps x 3 sets)

Tip: Step to the bar and grab it just outside shoulder width, making sure to keep your forearms and elbows tucked closely to your serratus anterior. As you press, try to keep your elbows in as tight as possible during the entire movement.

Benefit: This is great for your entire upper body, not just your shoulders.


5. Deadlift (10 reps x 3 sets)

Tip: Keep the natural arch in your lower back when you Deadlift. Don’t let it round or you’ll compress the front part of your spinal discs. Don’t hyper-extend your lower back either or you’ll squeeze the back part. Excess rounding or arching during heavy Deadlifts will result in spinal injuries like herniated discs.

Benefit: Deadlifts are compound exercises that require the use of all your major muscle groups.


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