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Gym Or No Gym…Functional Fitness Is A Solution For Weakness.

Gym Or No Gym…Functional Fitness Is A Solution For Weakness.

by: Brandon Richey

Gym Or No Gym…Functional Fitness Is A Solution For Weakness

tropical gym by zwieciu

So today the keyword or word phrase is Functional Fitness. So what is functional fitness or functional training?  Well even though this phrase gets thrown around in the fitness community more these days than Kim Kardashian’s name does on the latest headlines of entertainment weekly the fact still remains that some so-called professionals miss the mark on it’s meaning. By definition functional training involves training that mimics the demands of a given physical activity or individual need. This is where most folks don’t realize that even though there may be a lack of resources it doesn’t mean that it should be an excuse not to train.

The Strongman Approach! 

The great thing about functional fitness and being practical with your training is that you can utilize most any tool you have available to you. You can transform yourself and obtain functional fitness by lifting stuff that is probably sitting right in your garage or basement. So you are probably thinking Brandon how in the world do I train with stuff in my garage?

If you’re looking to start in your garage or basement this is a great beginning! 

The Naked Warrior

Well, it’s simple because all you have to is do find something and use it the way it’s meant to be used or just simply lift it, period. For instance, you can start with a wheelbarrow. That’s right, just grab your good ‘ole wheelbarrow, throw some stuff in it, and roll that sucker straight up a hill. If you do this enough I guarantee you’ll either break a sweat or get ton of yard work done. Either way you’ll benefit. Hell if we’re talking about your garage you may even be able to use your car…(see below)

That is obviously one hell of an option, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend this unless you are a true strongman professional. Even still if you have a flat driveway you can still throw your Ford Bronco in neutral, stick your neighbor or friend in the driver’s seat, and get behind that bad boy to push it around. Strongmen implement this form of functional training all the time and they didn’t need a super gym to get it done. It’s all about being able to utilize the functional qualities of various tools that you have available to you along with the movements to utilize them in practical ways. The P.P.T. rule is also great option for amping up the intensity of your strength training program and it can be applied by using that truck or Bronco in your yard just the same.

Taming the beast is also a great way to wake up your functional strength development!

 Beast Tamer How to Master the Ultimate Russian Kettlebell Strength Challenge

Now don’t get me wrong gyms and equipment are great, but more and more options of functional fitness are proving to be the breeding grounds for building champion athletes and super fit individuals. Now without sounding like the same ole Captain Obvious the act of pushing a car or truck or flipping giant tractor tires has shown to significantly tax the body by increasing the HR (heart rate) to near maximal levels while also increasing blood lactate levels to super high levels. In other words it’s hard as hell, but the more you do it the more the body will adapt to the point that it prolongs fatigue enabling the participant to do more work! Now this has my attention.

Functional Fitness Equipment…

Functional fitness or functional training as I have defined can be obtained with just about anything as long as you are providing the practical movements for the training to be effective. It doesn’t have to be complicated or over the top. You can work with the tools you have available to you or  like me you can also work with the familiar gym piece such as the good ole kettlebells. The tools of the gym can be used for functional training as well. Train your grip strength and core strength with snatches or you can get a couple of heavy bells to tote from one side of your property to the other. A good farmer’s walk will give you a crushing grip to squeeze the piss out of most anything.

Here’s some bells you can use to get your program started out on the right track!

Authentic RKC Kettlebells

I dive into how you can formulate this in greater detail from your own garage or basement through my Brandon Richey’s Unconventional Conventional Method Of Strength ebook as well. The value of what you can do to foster athletic development while building on the characteristics of strength comes from having a knowledge of what can benefit strength gains and the execution of movement, not from a bunch of fancy bells and whistles. Functional element of a strength program provides a base for us to incorporate more “optimal” movement along with the benefit of other factors such as hand eye coordination, foot eye coordination, and stability.

All in all, if you want to throw this phrase around (functional training or functional fitness) I thought I would help you with the understanding of what it was all about. In short it’s about being practical and innovative. You have the tools at your disposal you just may or may not have known that you did.

If you didn’t know or weren’t aware of what you had available to you for the purpose of functional fitness (functional training) then I hope this was an eye opener. If you did and just maybe needed some ideas then again I hope this was an eye opener! The bottom line is that you can get fit and strong by doing more than one thing. If you are looking for more super cool ideas such as this then I want to invite you to join my emailing list right here for FREE. Upon joining you will automatically hit SUPER COOL status, at least in my book. 😉 You’ll also get a lot of cool stuff for joining. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend.

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5 Ways To Turn Up Your Strength Training Program To Awesomeness Level!

10 Benefits Of Your In Home Training…

Gym Or No Gym…Functional Fitness Is A Solution For Weakness



I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. A timely and information packed article, Brandon, that is also right on point. Good to see you have created an e-book on this subject as well. It has been my experience that many people simply lack the “know how” to put together a solid at home gym or what to “do” in terms of a work out in some setting other than a gym.

    I haven’t been inside a formal gym in decades, yet I consistently work out and realize improvements in functional strength on a regular basis. I’m not anti-gym by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just that my life style does not support joining one as I have no idea what part of the world I might be in with very little notice.

    Many, if not most, people could do themselves a world of good by augmenting their gym membership with a basic home gym set up. For the days when going to the gym just isn’t an option, hit the home gym hard and keep the progress coming. If I ever really settle down I will most likely join a gym just because I like the atmosphere and variety of equipment available. However, I’ll always keep a couple of Kettlebells and some elastic bands around the house. I know there will be days when time demands will not support a full on trip to the gym. Rather than lose momentum, I’ll just work out at home.

    Living a “Fitness” lifestyle really isn’t all that difficult. It takes a little bit of planning and looking at any given day in a realistic light. To me, a key to success in the pursuit of fitness (however defined) is to build in some schedule/activity flexibility. Working out is not my life … it’s part of my life and I treat it as such. Doc

    1. Doc I appreciate the feedback on this one. Yes, I developed the ebook based on the concept of helping one to develop a fully comprehensive S&C program with tools and resources that can be utilized right out of the garage or basement. At most a very affordable trip to the local hardware store or shop would be all that is required for developing such a plan.

      As you know the use of sledgehammers, sandbags, cinder blocks, bodyweight, and tires are all tools that have become more and more accepted in the worlds of MMA and Tactical (military, law enforcement, fire and rescue) strength training environments. The idea of being able to quickly, affordably, and effectively stress the body for a given situation specific to the demands of such athletes/personnel is priceless.

      I believe too many people just simply fail to recognize that such tactics can work for them as an effective option for applied strength and conditioning. I figured I would try to make the value of such tactics more apparent through the ebook. Thanks again for pointing this out with your experience as well.

  2. From your article on “unconventional strength training” … “By interchanging these tools and implementing those similar movements you will get a varied training effect.”

    And in addition to variety being the spice of life, instilling some variety will keep work-outs from becoming a chore rather than a joy. If we frame “strength training” in terms of everyday real world, then what we refer to as “unconventional” becomes the standard and time in the gym becomes the unconventional. I’ve lived in several countries, and nine states in America … I’ve yet to encounter a Smith Machine while walking the streets. Old tires, abandoned vehicles, large chunks of concrete, sandbags, rear axles and more … run across quite a bit of it.

    One of the frequently unstated positives associated with unconventional strength training is the pleasure derived from rigging something up that really challenges a person’s physical limits in some fashion. There is just something viscerally satisfying about turning scrap or “useless junk” into a vehicle for productive work-outs. Some times what is jerry rigged lasts no longer than the one work-out, and at other times the tool becomes a mainstay. I once found a headless parking meter laying on a scrap pile next to a stretch of street being repaired and repaved. It had a large chunk of concrete on the end that had been secured in the ground. I kept it around for a year or so … best “club” I had for swinging club work-outs. Found about an eight foot length of old telephone pool near where the wooden poles were being replaced by ones made of metal. Got a lot of mileage out of the old piece of pole.

    The tools one employs in pursuit of strength is limited only by imagination and willingness to try. As the years go by, I find the infusion of novelty in terms of what I use for strength exercises keeps it fresh for me. Not everything works out as intended, however, hitting upon something that works well is satisfying on many different levels.

    1. Doc once again you touch on something with the “rigging” that is so true. As you express the challenge of creating an environment to stress the body to survive within a particular environment is what would be considered the “unconventional” approach by many this day and age. Granted there are some populations such as with your experience and mine that this would be considered the norm.

      However since this is not so much the case with the general public I enjoy the opportunity to try and demonstrate such creativity so that maybe others might adopt yours and my norm. 🙂 You’re exactly right, the creative process is very rewarding particularly when something works better than initially thought!

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