What is functional strength?

January 20, 2015 by 321go

Functional Strength is the ability to move your body in it’s full range of motion under moderate weight and stress over a period of time and distance.

Look at any toddler and watch how they move. Take this little guy for instance. No one taught him how to squat. He just does it. He naturally has the strength and mobility to squat with perfect form.


Can you do this? Where did your strength and mobility go? If you cannot get your body into basic positions like a body weight squat, then you are not functionally strong.

Having functional strength affords you a lower risk of injury in everyday situations. Carrying the groceries, moving furniture, doing yard work,….all can be done without worrying if you are going to throw your back out or tweak a shoulder or a knee. Functional strength provides the stability and muscular support your body needs to work safely.

Being functionally strong allows you to engage in more physical activities. Sports, housework, taking care of the kids, playing with the pets,….will all become easier and much more enjoyable. Being functionally strong opens many doors to a deeper enjoyment of life.

Functional strength is one of the most overlooked components in fitness. Many fitness programs focus more on weight-loss and cardio fat-burning methods than they do developing functional strength.

FACT: Developing strength is a more sustainable method of burning fat than doing a lot of cardio exercises

FACT: Integrating a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program that incorporates weight training is the fastest way to develop functional strength.

Why do I need Functional Strength?

Having the ability to perform in any situation can never be overestimated. If you have trouble  walking up a flight of stairs because you are too weak to move your body that way, how will you handle anything else? Being functionally strong means having the capacity to handle just about any physical situation life may hand you. It provides a peace of mind and confidence, knowing that you’ve “got this”, no matter what.

Keep your body safe. The single biggest cause of injury is lack of functional strength. Injuries to the back, knees, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and all kinds of other damage to the body is most often due to lack of stability and strength in the injured area. Developing functional strength increases the amount of muscle in your body. The best way to increase stability in your joints is by adding muscle to the areas supporting your joints and allowing the larger muscles to carry the load they were intended to carry. When you lack the strength to support yourself, you are asking for an injury.

Building overall strength will add muscle and decrease fat. You will look more trim, you will lose inches, and you will continue to burn fat for longer periods of time….even when you aren’t working out. The definition of “getting toned” is to add muscle and reduce fat. If you aren’t doing any strength training then you will not get the results you want.

How do we build Functional Strength at CrossFit PCR?

With patience. You are not the same as the person working out next to you. At the same time, you do have at least one thing in common. You want to get in shape, and you are willing to work to get there. We have a set of measurements that we use to gauge how our members are progressing. This is the first time we are putting them out for you to see. Use this as a target, a goal for you to achieve. We believe that these benchmarks represent the basic level of strength that is needed to enable someone to be Functionally Strong. We know it will take time, but we aren’t going anywhere.

CrossFit PCR Functional Strength Baseline

– Back Squat (bodyweight x 5 reps)

– Bench Press (¾ bodyweight x 5 reps)

– Deadlift (1½ bodyweight x 3 reps)

– 5 Strict Pull-ups

– 25 Situps

– 500m Row/400m Run under 2 Mins


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