Get To Grips With Functional Training Equipment With This 25-Minute Workout

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Even if you’ve been a gym regular for years the odds are that you haven’t tried out every piece of equipment available, especially as most big gyms are constantly updating what’s available to their members as different styles of training go in and out of fashion.

Sure, some gym-goers will just grab anything that does pop up in their gym and give it a go, but if you’re a little more circumspect and fear looking the fool because you’re using something incorrectly, then it’s worth getting some advice first.

DW Fitness First puts on its FGT Explore exercise classes to help members get a handle on pieces of equipment they might not have used before.

“FGT Explore enables members to master the fundamental moves of freestyle training using functional equipment such as ViPRs, sandbells, TRX and kettlebells,” says Tim Andrews, the chain’s UK head of gym floor experience.

“The aim is for members to work with a different piece of kit of choice during each session, focusing on perfecting form and technique.”

If you like the idea of training with something new next time you hit the gym, try this functional workout designed by Andrews.

The Workout

Make sure you warm up with some static and dynamic stretches before going into the body of the workout, which involves working through four different stations before tackling a finisher. At each station you’ll do two minutes of a bodyweight exercise to practise the form that will help you nail one minute of a similar exercise with a piece of equipment you might not have used before. You round off each station with one minute of active recovery doing a bodyweight exercise, then rest for one minute and head on to the next one.

Station 1

1 Prisoner squat

Time 2min Rest 0sec

“Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and put your hands behind your head,” says Andrews. “Keep your chest up and your elbows pulled back. Bend from your hips and lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your back straight.” Push up through your heels to start.

2 Sandbag squat clean

Time 1min Rest 0sec

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down to grasp the bag,” says Andrews. “Your thighs should be almost parallel to the floor, with your shoulders in front of the bag and your arms extended. While maintaining a straight back, rise to standing and pull the bag up explosively towards your shoulders. Extend, shrug and drop below to catch the bag, then stand up straight.”

3 Prisoner squat

Time 1min Rest 1min

Station 2

Press-up to side plank

Time 2min Rest 0sec

“From a press-up position drop your chest towards the floor then, as you push up, shift your bodyweight to the left, twist to the right side and bring your right arm up to point towards the ceiling as you come into a side plank position,” says Andrews. “Lower your arm back to the floor and repeat on the opposite side.”

2 Plank sandbag drag

Time 1min Rest 0sec

“Start in a press-up position, with a sandbag or sandbell on the floor to the left of your chest, well within arm’s reach,” says Andrews. “Reach your right hand through to the left side of your body to grab the sandbag and pull it across to the other side of your body. Then reach through with the other hand to pull it back.”

3 Press-up

Time 1min Rest 1min

Station 3

Bicycle crunch

Time 2min Rest 0sec

“Lie on your back and place your hands behind your head, interlocking your fingers,” says Andrews. “Lift one leg just off the ground and fully extend it. Lift your other leg and bend the knee towards your chest. Use your core to bring the opposite shoulder towards the bent knee, aiming to bring together the elbow and knee. Don’t worry if they don’t actually touch! Lower your leg and arm and repeat with the opposite limbs.”

2 ViPR seated kayak

Time 1min Rest 0sec

“Sit, either with your knees bent and feet on the ground or balancing on your bum with your feet off the floor for a harder variation,” says Andrews.

“Move the ViPR in exactly the same way you would if you were kayaking, so you swipe down on one side of your body and, once you’ve reached your full range of motion, swipe down on the other. Repeat with a flowing motion.”

3 Bicycle crunch

Time 1min Rest 1min

Station 4

Stiff-leg deadlift

Time 2min Rest 0sec

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weighted bar in an overhand grip,” says Andrews. “Bend your knees slightly and hinge at your hips to lower the bar, keeping your back straight. Aim to lower until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings and glutes, pause, then slowly straighten back up.”

2 Kettlebell figure of eight

Time 2min Rest 0sec

"Place a kettlebell between your legs and take a wider than shoulder-width stance,” says Andrews. “Bend over, pushing your hips back and keeping your back flat. Pick up the kettlebell and pass it to your other hand between your legs. The receiving hand should reach from behind the legs so the bell moves in a figure-of-eight path. Continue to pass the kettlebell from hand to hand like this.”

3 Stiff-leg deadlift

Time 1min Rest 1min


Repeat the following circuit of three exercises as many times as you can in three minutes.

Jump lunge

Reps 3 each side

Lunge forwards with your right foot and lower until both knees are bent at 90°. Then push back up into the air explosively and, while airborne, switch your legs around so you can drop straight into a lunge on your left foot when landing.

Sandbell jump slam

Reps 3

Stand holding a sandbell in front of your waist. Leap into the air, taking the sandbell above your head, and slam it into the ground. As you land, drop into a squat to scoop up the sandbell.

Side plank

Time 15 sec each side

Lie on your side with your feet stacked and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.