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Top 3 Functional Exercises

By Jessica Morris on October 30, 2014

Top 3 Functional Exercises

Let’s face it—we’re all busy these days! Work, family, relationships...all of these things can feel overwhelming at times, and we can easily forget to focus on ourselves, our nutrition or exercise routines. Not to fret, here are our top three functional exercises that require no gym or additional weights at all to keep you fit, without wasting time.

I selected these specific moves because they are all compound movements meaning that you are engaging a multitude of muscle groups at once, instead of one muscle in isolation. Why not target more muscles in a shorter amount of time to get maximum results?!

1. Squat

Jessica Morris doing a squat outside

You’ve probably heard of squatting before, but this move truly is my favorite. If you’re looking to strengthen your legs (calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes) this one is for you!

How to do a Squat

  • Keep your legs approximately shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly turned out
  • Look upward to keep your chest up
  • Pull your shoulder blades together to maintain a strong back (crossing your arms in front of you will also help you do this)
  • Push knees outward when both squatting down and coming up. Watch to ensure your knees are not tracking forward beyond your ankles
  • Squat downwards (just past 90 degrees) but make sure you maintain your flat, strong back
  • Push through your heels
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top

Try to perform 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps of squats with your bodyweight to begin!

2. Push-up

The widely known push-up is great for so many reasons. It truly is a full body workout. I love push-ups because I can feel my legs, core, back and arms working all at once.

Jessica Morris at the bottom of a push-up

Jessica Morris doing a push-up

How to do a Push-Up

  • Rest your hands on a bench or ledge (or drop down to your knees) for beginners. A more advanced start is in a plank on a flat or declined surface
  • Place your hands and arms shoulder-width apart, keeping your hands directly underneath your shoulders
  • Fire up your legs by squeezing your quads and glutes
  • Tighten your core and try to lift your belly button towards your spine
  • Slowly lower your chest towards the ground (or ledge) until you are 1-2 inches from the ground
  • Push directly back up until your arms are straight

Try to perform 3-4 sets for 10-15 reps!

3. Plank

Jessica Morris planking on a bench

Say goodbye to a soft tummy and tighten up with a plank! This move is fantastic as it targets your entire abdomen and can be done anywhere.

How to do a Plank

  • Choose if you’ll be planking on your hands or elbows (both are great in my opinion!)
  • Place hands or elbows directly under the shoulders and engage your back (retract/pull your shoulder blades together)
  • Form your body in a horizontal position with straight legs balancing on your toes
  • Engage your lower back and abdomen, and pull your belly button to your spine
  • Fire your glutes and legs for extra strength

Try to hold your plank for as long as possible—but remember to keep that perfect form! Don’t let your hips fall towards the ground or hike up towards the sky!

Use these three workout moves at the gym, at home or outdoors if you’re looking to engage multiple muscles while getting strong. And remember your nutrition plays a huge role in your results, so be sure to eat clean and train mean!

What are your favorite functional exercises?

Jessica Morris

A Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP), Jessica specializes in blood sugar and weight management, natural sports nutrition and longevity. Jessica is a certified personal trainer and indoor cycling instructor. Her enthusiasm for plant-based nutrition, fitness, and health inspires her clients to take charge of their health and create positive changes.
Jessica Morris