Tip: Two Lifts for Real Athletic Strength

Here's are two functional strength exercises that are actually functional for athletes and everyone else who occasionally gets off the couch.

People use the term "functional strength" a lot, and I'm not convinced they know what it means. Standing one legged on a BOSU ball while you do a banded press does not mean you're becoming functionally stronger.

So, how do you develop real functional strength? By doing lifts that have both of these qualities:

  1. They help you function better when doing normal life activities.
  2. They actually make you strong.

Athletes require functional strength just as much as the average lifter. So that's where these two movements come in. They can lead to some amazing gains in strength, power, and speed in a very short amount of time and are actually functional for both competitive athletes and everyday lifters.

Trap Bar Deadlift

This lift is as simple as it is brutal. It requires you to assume an athletic stance before beginning the movement. Developing strength in an athletic stance will transfer to any sport or life activity. Whether you need to prepare to tackle a running back who's running full steam at you or are just trying to lift your groceries off the floor, everyone will need to be strong in this position at some point.

Rack Squat

It'll train you to hit the right depth on a back squat without the risk of injury. Set some safety pins at approximately hip height so you're able to squat to parallel. Do this lift just like a regular back squat, except when you get to the bottom of the squat, rest the bar on the pins for about a second before driving the hips up and forward as you go back to standing.

TJ Kuster is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), specializing in mobility and injury prevention. He coaches at Method Sports Performance in Bloomington, IL.