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Functional Training on ARENA

August 29, 2022

Pat Gilles

Functional Training on ARENA

There is no doubt that functional training has gained mass popularity in the fitness community over the past few years. However, functional training is one of the oldest and most basic forms of physical fitness. It's a concept that has been around for ages - working out to improve your daily life. With that being said, as with everything in life, it is evolving.

Functional training is as important for beginners as it is for experts, like pro athletes. It is a form of training that is imperative at all levels, although, for different reasons. Nonetheless, the concept has the same overall purpose of enhancing the physical aspect of daily life, whatever that might entail.

Functional training can mean different things for different people, and I’ve laid out different areas where ARENA can help you meet your functional goals.



Using the belt squat attachment will increase your conditioning, increase your strength, and has amazing traction on the lower back to keep your back and spine safe. Even when injured, individuals can find exercises that suit their needs using this attachment. One of my favorites is marching in place with the belt attached for two minutes at a time. If that becomes too easy you can add more weight or time to make the movement harder. Marching is one of the best ways to build up strength and endurance specifically in the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes.


Functional training exercises on ARENA will help you build a solid foundation, and it is easy to see progressions with the user-friendly app. Instead of having to buy heavier equipment you can add more weight with the touch of a button as your foundation evolves.


Individuals spend hours in front of a computer, on a phone, and in front of a TV on a daily basis. Over time, these behaviors cause imbalances and will anteriorly tilt your shoulders forward. To help improve your posture and engage your posterior back muscles, it is important to add pulling movements in your workout routine. Add in these 2 pulling exercises on ARENA:

1) Seated row: targets the muscles in your upper back and the latissimus dorsi — a muscle on the outer side of the chest wall. This exercise will help improve your posture and help protect your shoulders.

2) Single arm row each side: this movement targets the upper and lower back, shoulders, biceps, and hips while improving core stability.

To include these in your programming, do the following a few times a week:

  • 5x15 seated rows using the rope attachment
  • 5x12 single arm rows each side using the handle attachment


One aspect of training that many people forgo is core strength. Having a strong core has many benefits in and out of the gym and sports arena. It will help reduce the chance of injury and help you become more efficient on a daily basis. Here are 3 easy ways to use your ARENA for core-focused work.

Core - 5x through:

  • 20/side Cauldrons
  • 12/side Kneeling Pallof Press
  • 30sec/side Copenhagen Plank
  • RAN (rest as needed)


A lot of functional training will involve unilateral training. Unilateral training involves single leg movements and offset weights, which seriously develop balance and coordination. Good balance and coordination will help prevent injuries when push comes to shove. Two movements that are great for developing balance and proprioception using ARENA are:

1) Single lead dead lifts: these are simple yet an effective exercise for simultaneously strengthening and toning the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and calves) and improving balance.

2) Contralateral lunge with a press: this is an exercise used to target the muscles of the quad as well as the rest of the muscles in the leg. The contralateral load used in this lunge provides a stability factor to the exercise and thus challenges the core.

If you wanted to include these in your programming, you could do the following circuit a few times a week.

Balance - 4x through:

  • 10/side Single lead dead lift
  • 8/side contralateral lunges with press


With the touch of your phone, you can change the weight/load on ARENA. This makes it easy to workout with your family when individuals are at different skill levels. One of my favorite workouts with my daughter, son, and wife is the 400-rep challenge.

400 deadlifts total as a team:

  • P1 10 Dead lifts
  • P2 Hold a plank
  • P3 Hold a squat
  • P4 Rest

Person 1 performs 10 dead lifts, person 2 holds a plank for that amount of time, person 3 holds a squat for that amount of time, and person 4 rests. Adjust the weight on the machine to make the dead lifts more challenging, while maintaining perfect form for 10 total reps at a time.


Whether you have a chronic back injury or are completely healthy it is very important to include exercises into your programming that address overall back health.

Here are a few exercises on ARENA that you can include in your programming that will help your back and keep you healthy in the future:

1) Straight Leg Deadlifts: There is certainly a link between flexible hamstrings and a healthy back. People with tight hamstrings tend to develop low back pain. Tight hamstrings can increase stress in the lower back, and this subsequently causes pain. Include straight-leg deadlifts done perfectly for form to help correct or prevent this issue.

2) Romanian Deadlifts: see description above. Once again do these with light weight and make sure the form is perfect.

3) Static Holds: having strong, well balanced, resilient core muscles can help alleviate or prevent back pain. Start including plenty of static holding in your program that focuses on building the muscles of the core. You can do this in some form every day. I would suggest adding in plank holds and overhead holds. Make sure you keep the form strict. Often people will cheat the movement. If you can’t do 300 total seconds (i.e. 5 minutes) of static holding then do so in sets of 30-60 seconds and keep the form as strict as possible.

If you wanted to include these in your programming, you could do the following a few times a week at the end of a difficult workout, or on a recovery day:

  • 3x10 Straight Leg Deadlift
  • 3x10 RDL
  • 300sec Plank Hold (Done in sets of 30sec)
  • 300sec Overhead Hold @ Straight bar moderate weight (done in sets of 30sec)


Want something that pacts a great aerobic and aesthetics punch? This is a great format for training on lower intensity days. This combination is extremely effective in giving you that “feel great, look great” feeling at the same time on ARENA.

In this format, the clock runs the entire time. You will only be biking or performing step ups for about 2 – 3 minutes per set. The effort on the cardio portion is very manageable. You can change the mix of movements to get the desired outcome. In this workout, I used upper body push and pull on one block, and the core on the other block.

Workout: 60min clock – Continuously Running: *Bike/step ups at a moderate pace.

At the 4, 12, 20, 28, 36, 44, 52, 60-minute marks get off and perform the below with a 2 second negative on each:

  • 10 Lunge back single arm row/arm
  • 10 Single Arm Press/arm

At the 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56-minute marks get off and perform:

  • 12 Weighted sit ups
  • 10 Side plank rows/arm

All in all, functional training aims to boost your overall health and wellbeing for the goals you have. Take advantage of the convenience of ARENA to become the most functional version of yourself.

If you want a more specific tailored workout plan using ARENA, Pat offers online coaching through Pat’s Gym. He will design an adaptable workout and nutrition program for you based on where you train and what you have available. You will have access to one-on-one communication with Pat via email, text, phone, and an interactive website. Take the guessing out of working out and eating. Work with a coach, ask questions, and get results.

–Pat Gilles, Owner of Pat's Gym in Madison, WI

Email Pat:

DM: @pgilles

Phone: 608-692-6355


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