Squats, lunges and more: Top 5 moves to improve functionality

A primary goal in any fitness program should be functionality, meaning we should utilize exercises that promote efficient human movement

Vahdaneh Vahid

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A primary goal in any fitness program should be functionality, meaning we should utilize exercises that promote efficient human movement. Every movement our body performs is deeply rooted in categories of human biomechanics, including squat, lunge, push, pull and rotation. Using these five basic primal movements will improve the way you walk, enhance sports performance and decrease risk of pain or injury.



- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, feet pointing forward
- Shift your weight back on your heels
- Slowly lower yourself back as if you are sitting into a chair
- Allow for some bend at your knees
- Keep your chest up and shoulder blades retracted
- As you reach the bottom phase of the squat, pause
- Draw your navel in and slowly tilt your pelvis back to increase tension in your butt and back of your legs
- Slowly come back up extending your legs, making sure your knees straighten and fall back before you finish off at the top
- When you reach the top, draw the navel and tilt your pelvis under



This improves efficiency in everyday movements such as walking, running and climbing

- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, feet pointing forward
- Take a comfortable step forward with one leg and plant the front heel into the ground
- Drop the hip on the forward leg back and bend at the knee, lowering yourself closer to the ground
- Tuck under and squeeze the butt on the back leg to help stabilize your lower spine
- Flex your foot on the back so the heel is raised off the ground
- Power yourself straight back to the starting position and alternate legs
- Keep your navel drawn in throughout the movement, and keep your shoulder from rounding forward



We use this movement to push against an object with force.

- Assume a plank position on the floor with your feet hip-distance apart
- Place your hands about chest-width apart from your shoulder level
- Draw your navel in and posterior tilt your pelvis (tucking your hips under)
- Keep your back elongated and as straight as possible
- Tuck your chin in slightly and slowly move your chest toward the floor
- Keep your navel pulled in throughout, and do not curve your lower back
- Push yourself away from the floor and return to the starting position, keeping your body in perfect alignment



This time, we are moving a load toward us

- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart
- Lean back slightly
- Keep the knees slightly bent
- Draw your navel in
- Posterior tilt the pelvis (tuck hips under)
- Holding the resistance with one hand, start with a straight arm and initiate the movement by retracting the scapula (the muscle around the shoulder blade)
- As the elbows start to bend, continue to retract the scapula at the same time - you will notice an opening of the chest, which indicates that the scapula is activating well
- Create a 90-degree bend from the elbow (the elbow should not go past the torso)
- Return to starting position


twist part 1
twist part 1

Rotation is the most important movement throughout the day. The lack of ability to properly twist or rotate will lead to muscle over-compensation and injures.

twist part 2
twist part 2

- Begin in a staggered stance inline to the resistance band in front of you
- Apply most of your body weight to the front heel, which should be the forward leg closest to the resistance
- Draw the navel in and posterior tilt the pelvis
- Hold both hands out in front of you, with your elbows extended inline with your chest
- Allow for some rotation from just your torso toward the resistance band
- Point the foot on the back leg away from the resistance band while planting it firmly on the ground, instantaneously twisting the body across the forward leg
- Allow the resistance to pull you back into starting position
- As one heel lifts off the ground and turns out, the opposite foot is planted down, and vice versa
- Your mid-back should not round forward, and hips should remain square as the rotation is coming from the torso only


Fitness expert Vahdaneh Vahid can be reached on Facebook and Instagram.