Hate Weightlifting? Try Functional Fitness Equipment

Weightlifting isn’t for everyone. But strength is. Especially in light of the impending zombie apocalypse that I’m convinced is coming. If you’ve been watching Walking Dead, you’ll know that some serious shit goes down. And the weak are always the first to go. So, I’ve got some minimalistic training equipment that’ll help you build some ass kicking strength. No gym required.


Kettlebells are one of my top picks when it comes to functional fitness equipment. Throwing one around makes you feel like a badass special ops agent. Especially if you wear a balaclava like these guys:

  Image source:  Pavel Tsatsouline  training Hungarian counterterrorists

Image source: Pavel Tsatsouline training Hungarian counterterrorists

Good for

Kettlebells build explosive strength and muscular endurance. They also force you to engage your whole body. Kettlebells can be used for full-body workouts. But they’re particularly good for lower back, legs, and shoulders. You’ll also be working grip strength. I love basic movements like the swing, which teaches you to hinge at the hips. Other movements like the snatch and the clean and jerk are also highly functional.

Gymnastics Rings

If you had to pick one piece of equipment to build superhero-esque upper body strength, gymnastics rings would be my go to. Look at the upper body of male gymnasts and it’s hard to disagree. Adding rings into your workout is a great way to challenge stability and will expose any and every weakness.

  Image credit: Thomas Schreyer

Image credit: Thomas Schreyer

Good for

Building bulletproof upper body strength and stability through a full range of motion. Rings target your shoulders, arms, back, and abs. Because of the extreme stability required to use them, they’re not easy. But you don’t need to be a pro. There are plenty of regressions you can use to build up to pull ups, dips, muscle ups, etc.

TRX Suspension Training

The TRX suspension system is a great all-in-one piece of equipment. It’s like having a ‘gym’ you can take anywhere. Compared to gymnastics rings, the TRX system is much more versatile. Because you can hook your foot into it, it allows you to do lower body exercises. It’s also more beginner friendly than the rings. But not very good for dips, pull ups, or gymnastic movements.

  Image source:  Men’s Fitness

Image source: Men’s Fitness

Good for

Bodyweight exercises that work on strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability. You’re only limited by your imagination. You can hit all the muscles of the body with plenty of targeted exercises to keep you busy. The TRX system is better suited to high-rep muscular endurance work. It won’t pack on muscle like kettlebells or gymnastic rings. But it’s really versatile.


Battleropes are great for conditioning. They’re a low impact cardio workout that feel like sprints for your arms. And there’s something primal and satisfying about smashing ropes into the ground.

  Image source:  Rogue

Image source: Rogue

Good for

Strengthening your abs, arms, and shoulders, and killer conditioning. They teach you to root to the ground and stabilize. They build upper body stamina and get you up to peak heart rate quickly. They can also be used for rope climbing, pulling, agility, and much more.


From weighted bear crawls to dragging a sled backwards, this simple piece of equipment will work your whole body and burn the legs out.

  Image source:  Project Warrior

Image source: Project Warrior

Good for

Building leg power. They can be used for general fitness, but work well as a training tool for runners, sprinters, or anyone wanting explosive lower body power. Sleds hit the glutes, calves, hamstrings, quads, and core. They’re also great for high-intensity workouts when used with lighter weights.


Mace training might look new, but it dates back to ancient Persia. Maces were used to condition soldiers and wrestlers. Which is why they fit the definition of functional fitness equipment perfectly—they’re a training tool that doubles up to battle zombies.

  Image source:  Onnit

Image source: Onnit

Good for

Upper body muscles like the arms, chest, and back. Maces have an extremely disproportionate weight distribution (like a sledgehammer). They challenge the stabilizer muscles surrounding joints and help to build core and rotational strength.


Parallettes are another gymnastics-based tool that are great for building upper body strength and training stabilization. They can be used to simulate the parallel bars.

  Image source:  WOD Star

Image source: WOD Star

Good for

They hit the core hard, improve stabilization, and build upper body strength. They’re good for advanced moves like L- and V-sits. They can also be used for push ups, dips, handstands, and much more.

Slam Balls

The name says it all—get that aggression out by slamming the ball onto the floor in a primal display of strength. Aim for lots of noise—wake those treadmill jockeys up.

  Image source:  Rogue

Image source: Rogue

Good for

Explosive power drills. When used for floor slams, you’re working your whole body. The focus is on upper body muscles, but you also target the hamstrings, quads, glutes, and abs. Slam balls can also be used like a medicine ball, but force you to stabilize more as the weight shifts.

Do Something—Anything!

Don’t just consume information. If you’ve read this far, I’m assuming you find this post useful. You’ve now got two choices: 1) close the screen and think ‘that’s nice’ and move on with your day. Or 2) go find one of the above pieces of equipment and give it a try. Pick something you can access easily—most gyms will have some of the equipment listed. And as Nike says, just do it! Decision creates action. Action creates results.

I Need Your Help

I’ve also got a huge favour to ask of you. No, I don’t want your money. But will happily accept it! I’m trying to get this blog off the ground and I can’t do it without your help. Simply sharing this post on social media (you’re so close to the share buttons—look down below) or emailing it to a friend makes a HUGE difference in my life. In return, I promise we can be best mates and you can reach out anytime. Seriously. If you need help with any health, fitness, or Jedi Knight goals you can contact me here.

You can also share some love by adding a comment below. Let me know what your favourite piece of functional fitness equipment is.

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