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10 Best Functional Strength Exercises for Weight Loss

Boost your weight-loss efforts with these essential functional strength exercises.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

When it comes to weight loss, building functional strength is key. Functional exercises not only help you burn calories but also improve your overall movement patterns, making daily activities easier and more efficient. Whether you're aiming to shed a few pounds or simply want to enhance your fitness level, I recommend incorporating functional strength exercises into your routine to accelerate your weight-loss journey. Here are 10 of the best functional strength exercises for weight loss to help you reach your goals.

Remember to perform each exercise with proper form and control, and gradually increase the intensity and difficulty as you progress. With consistency and dedication, you'll be well on your way to achieving your goal weight.


illustration of squats

You can't have a roundup of functional strength exercises for weight loss and not include squats. Squats are a fundamental functional exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body by bending your knees and pushing your hips back. Keep your chest up and your back straight. Engage your core as you push through your heels to return to the starting position. Do three sets of 12 reps.

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woman doing kettlebell deadlift illustration

Deadlifts strengthen the posterior chain, including the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, while engaging the core and upper body.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand. Hinge at the hips, and bend your knees slightly, lowering the weights toward the ground. Keep your back straight and chest lifted as you lower the weights. Push through your heels to stand up straight, squeezing your glutes at the top. Do three sets of 10 reps.


lunges exercise

Lunges are excellent for targeting the lower-body muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, while improving balance and coordination.

Stand with your feet together and hands on your hips. Take a big step forward with your right foot, lowering your body until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles. Keep your chest up and your core engaged. Push through your right heel to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do three sets of 12 reps on each leg.

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illustration of woman doing pushups

Pushups are a classic exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. This movement also enhances upper-body strength and stability.

Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and wrists under your shoulders. Lower your body toward the ground by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your sides. Keep your core engaged and back flat. Push through your palms to return to the starting position. Do three sets of 10 reps.

Bent-over Rows

dumbbell bent-over row

Bent-over rows strengthen the muscles of the upper back, including the lats, rhomboids, and rear deltoids, and engage the biceps and core.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and hinge at the hips, keeping your back flat and chest lifted. Bend your elbows and pull the weights toward your ribcage, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement. Lower the weights back down with control. Do three sets of 12 reps.

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Planks are a simple yet effective exercise for strengthening the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis.

Start in a forearm plank position with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels, engaging your core and glutes. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat for three sets.

Russian Twists

Russian twist with medicine ball

Russian twists target the obliques and core muscles, helping to improve rotational strength and stability.

Sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet lifted off the ground, balancing on your sit bones. Hold a weight or medicine ball with both hands; arms extended in front of you. Twist your torso to the right, bringing the weight toward the ground next to your hip. Return to the center, then twist to the left side. Do three sets of 20 reps (10 reps per side).

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illustration of step-ups

Step-ups are a functional lower-body exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes while improving balance and coordination.

Stand in front of a sturdy bench or step. Step up onto the bench with your right foot, driving through your heel. Bring your left foot to meet your right on top of the bench. Step back down with your right foot, followed by your left. Repeat on the other side. Do three sets of 12 reps on each leg.

Bicycle Crunches

bicycle crunches

Bicycle crunches are an effective exercise for targeting the entire abdominal region, including the rectus abdominis and obliques.

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, legs lifted off the ground, and knees bent at 90-degree angles. Bring your right elbow toward your left knee while extending your right leg straight. Switch sides, bringing your left elbow toward your right knee while extending your left leg straight. Continue alternating sides in a pedaling motion. Do three sets of 20 reps (10 reps per side).



The burpee is a full-body exercise that combines strength training with cardio, making it highly effective for burning calories and improving overall fitness.

Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Drop into a squat position and place your hands on the ground. Jump your feet back into a plank position. Perform a pushup, then jump your feet back to your hands. Explosively jump into the air, reaching your arms overhead. Do three sets of 10 reps.

Tyler Read
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler