Best Functional Bodybuilding Exercises To Build A Strong Core

It’s funny to me when I read dissenting opinions online about crossfit vs physique training. Maybe there could of been a debate 10 years ago but unless you’re strictly only using Crossfit HQ programming or only working out in a big chain gym (and nothing is wrong with either FYI), there is a symmetry and crossover between the two. Call it functional bodybuilding or say you finish your workout with a EMOM or some “hypertrophy work” but regardless, functional bodybuilding can make you bigger, stronger and faster.

While we’ve written about Crossfit upper body muscle building workouts before, nowhere is functional bodybuilding more prevalent than with ab exercises to build a strong high performance core. Remember, if you solely rely on bodybuilding exercises like a cable crunch, you’re going to be limited when you do a overhead snatch WOD. Similarly doing V hollows to improve your ring muscle ups isn’t going to build a set of sexy abs that you want for the beach. Both pair well with our burpees workouts fyi.

Use these six functional bodybuilding abs exercises for a stronger core. Remember that body fat levels are most closely linked to the foods you eat so following a healthy diet is going to go a long way.

Half Turkish Get Ups.

I love this exercise as it is both functional since it’s the beginning stages of a turkish get up so it builds a strong core but it also carves out a nice set of abs since you’re training your obliques as well.

You begin with a normal turkish get up and you make sure your arm is pointed to the ceiling. Keeping your kettlebell or dumbbell in a straight line with your hips  and make sure you pop your hips up slightly.


Okay, I know there is nothing unique or cool about a plank. Have you ever tried to hold one with perfect form for a minute? Good lord.

How about doing planks as part of a EMOM with fatigued shoulders? Brutal.

Truthfully planks can be programmed into your workout in a variety of ways when your traditional plank to side planks to planks with your upper or lower body elevated. There’s a lot of ways to increase the intensity of this movement. It’s build badass functional core strength because it keeps your body how to keep your core engaged during fatigue.  Planks are especially brutal after one of our high intensity running workouts.

Dragon Flags

Great all around core exercise to focus on lower ab strength but also time under tension. Grab a hold of a kettlebell or squat rack. Begin by straightening your leg and thinking of “pulling” them to your upper body. As you lower them maintain a straight line without letting your back collapse to the floor

L Sits
As far as functional bodybuilding exercises go, L sits might be the best for developing a sore core and abs. Head over to our L sits article here to learn how to perform them correctly. L sits can really fire up both your core and pressing muscles and similar to planks, there’s a variety of ways to scale them up and down.

Functional bodybuilding is here to stay. The purpose of it is to help you build a badass looking body that can also perform regardless if it’s crossfit, triathlons or any other crazy endurance activity you might be under taking.