Elizabeth Andrews by Elizabeth Andrews

What are your fitness goals? Are you training for a specific sport or to gain a certain level of fitness? Or perhaps you want to enjoy a better quality of life that enables you to enjoy many activities and not fret about getting injured? Regardless of what your training goals might be, these functional training exercises will help challenge your body in new ways. These functional movement exercises require only your body weight and give you an excuse to enjoy the fresh air as you perform these outdoor workouts.


Find a good set of stairs to climb, at a school stadium or park, for example. Start by climbing using a lateral stance, beginning with the outside leg, and then alternate sides. You can increase the intensity of your stair workout by adding speed or skipping steps. 

Multidirectional Bear Crawls

Begin on all fours; pack the shoulders in and enage the lats. Curl the toes under and position the hips under the knees. Lift the knees about an inch or two off the ground. Maintain a table-top position and begin to crawl forward for a few steps. Without shifting the torso, crawl backward and then laterally; change directions. Stop crawling when you feel your form begin to fall apart. Rest and try again. This is a great exercise for core and shoulder stabilization. 


Remember how fun skipping was when you were a kid? It’s fun as an adult, too. Try these variations: change the rhythm, speed skip and power skip (emphasizing the vertical). Or try regular skipping for extended periods of time. Remember to use your arms to help drive the movement. 

Deep Squats

You can use any pole, lamp post or stair railing for this exercise. Stand a little less than arm’s-length away from the pole and position the feet in a squat stance. Squat down as far as you can. Use the leverage from grasping the pole to help provide depth and extension through the spine; keep the heels flat on the ground. Hold the position and continue trying to pull the chest toward the pole, creating greater extension and hip depth. 

Incline Push-ups

Find a bench or short wall. Place the hands on the bench, with hands and feet positioned shoulder-width apart. Pack the shoulders, engage the lats, squeeze the glutes and legs; lower the chest toward the bench. To emphasize the triceps, keep the elbows in close to the torso throughout the movement. 

Decline Push-ups

On the same bench or wall, place the feet on the bench and the hands on the ground. As with incline push-ups, keep the body fully engaged and don’t allow any sagging through the neck, chest, low back, hips and legs. To increase the intensity, lift one leg at a time through the movement. 

Isometric Hangs

Find some monkey bars or any bar that is as tall as you are. Grab the bar with hands shoulder-width apart and jump up, high enough to where your chin is above the bar. Keep your head in a neutral position and engage the shoulders, drawing them in and down. Hold for as long as you can without losing form. Jump down, rest and repeat. Try to increase the length of time you can hold your chin above the bar.