The Fitness Zone

Unleashing the Power of Group Exercise: The Triad of Resistance Training, Functional Movements, and Variety

Jun 14, 2023 | by Steve Irwin

In the quest for optimal fitness, individuals often turn to group exercise classes for motivation, camaraderie, and expert guidance. While group workouts offer numerous benefits, incorporating specific elements can take these classes to the next level. In this article, we will explore the remarkable advantages of incorporating resistance training, functional movements, and variety in group exercise classes, unlocking the potential for clients to achieve their best results.

Resistance Training: Building Strength and Sculpting Muscles
  • Resistance training, also known as strength training, forms the foundation of any well-rounded fitness program. By incorporating resistance exercises into group exercise classes, participants can experience a host of benefits. Firstly, resistance training helps build lean muscle mass, which leads to increased strength and improved overall performance. With more muscle mass, individuals can expect a higher resting metabolic rate, enabling them to burn calories more efficiently.
  • Moreover, resistance training plays a pivotal role in preventing age-related muscle loss, which is crucial for maintaining mobility and independence as we grow older.[1] Group exercise classes that include resistance training can help participants develop functional strength and enhance their ability to perform daily tasks with ease.

These ten resistance training exercises offer a comprehensive approach to developing strength, muscle tone, and overall fitness. When incorporated into a group workout, they provide participants with a well-rounded training session that targets major muscle groups and promotes functional movements.

  1. Squats: Squats are a fundamental resistance training exercise that targets the lower body, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. They improve lower body strength, enhance muscle tone, and promote functional movements like sitting down and standing up.
  1. Push-ups: Push-ups are a classic compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. They help build upper body strength, improve posture, and enhance overall pushing movements.
  1. Lunges: Lunges work the lower body, focusing on the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. They promote single-leg stability, increase leg strength, and improve balance and coordination.
  1. Dumbbell Rows: Dumbbell rows target the muscles of the back, including the lats, rhomboids, and upper back. They improve posture, strengthen the back muscles, and promote balanced upper body development.
  1. Shoulder Press: The shoulder press targets the deltoid muscles and the triceps. It helps build upper body strength, improves shoulder stability, and enhances overall pushing movements.
  1. Deadlifts: Deadlifts are a compound exercise that targets the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. They build overall strength, improve core stability, and enhance hip mobility.
  1. Bicep Curls: Bicep curls isolate and strengthen the biceps muscles in the upper arms. They enhance arm strength, improve grip, and allow for better performance in activities involving pulling movements.
  1. Tricep Dips: Tricep dips primarily target the triceps muscles at the back of the arms. They help strengthen and tone the triceps, improve pushing movements, and enhance upper body definition.
  1. Step-ups: Step-ups are a lower body exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. They improve leg strength, enhance balance, and simulate functional movements like climbing stairs or stepping up onto elevated surfaces.
  1. Plank: The plank is a core-strengthening exercise that engages the entire abdominal region, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis. It improves core stability, enhances posture, and supports overall functional movements.
Functional Movements: Enhancing Real-Life Performance
  • Functional movements mimic the natural patterns of human movement, emphasising strength, coordination, and mobility. Incorporating functional movements into group exercise classes can significantly enhance overall fitness levels and translate into real-life activities.[2] These exercises target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, promoting greater muscular balance and stability.
  • Functional movements are especially beneficial for those seeking improvements in sports performance or everyday activities. By engaging in movements that mirror those required in daily life, participants can enhance their coordination, flexibility, and balance. Whether it’s lifting groceries, playing with kids, or excelling in sports, functional movements provide a solid foundation for functional fitness.

Incorporating these functional movement training exercises into a group workout provides participants with a comprehensive training experience that targets multiple muscle groups, enhances stability and coordination, and prepares the body for real-life activities and sports performance.

  1. Squat to Overhead Press: This exercise combines a squat with an overhead press using dumbbells or kettlebells. It targets the lower body muscles, core, and shoulders, improving overall strength, coordination, and enhancing the ability to perform lifting movements.
  1. Medicine Ball Slams: Medicine ball slams involve lifting a weighted medicine ball overhead and forcefully slamming it to the ground. This exercise engages the entire body, focusing on core strength, explosiveness, and enhancing functional movements like throwing or lifting heavy objects.
  1. Kettlebell Swings: Kettlebell swings involve a hip-hinging motion, swinging a kettlebell from between the legs to shoulder height. This exercise targets the glutes, hamstrings, and core, improving posterior chain strength, power, and enhancing movements such as bending and lifting.
  1. Farmer’s Carry: The farmer’s carry involves holding heavy dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand and walking for a designated distance or time. This exercise enhances grip strength, core stability, and mimics the movements required for carrying groceries or heavy objects.
  1. Battle Ropes: Battle rope exercises involve creating waves, slams, or circles with heavy ropes. They engage the upper body, core, and cardiovascular system, improving muscular endurance, coordination, and promoting full-body engagement in functional movements.
  1. TRX Rows: TRX rows use suspension straps to perform rows while maintaining a plank-like position. This exercise targets the back, shoulders, and core, improving posture, upper body strength, and supporting pulling movements.
  1. Lateral Lunges: Lateral lunges involve stepping sideways into a lunge position, targeting the inner and outer thighs, glutes, and hips. This exercise enhances hip mobility, stability, and strengthens the lower body for movements like walking, climbing stairs, or sports activities that involve lateral movements.
  1. Single-Leg Deadlifts: Single-leg deadlifts focus on balance and stability while targeting the hamstrings, glutes, and core. They improve hip stability, strengthen the posterior chain, and enhance functional movements like picking up objects from the ground.
  1. Agility ladder drills: Agility ladder drills involve quick footwork patterns through a ladder on the ground. These drills enhance coordination, speed, and agility, improving overall athletic performance and supporting movements requiring rapid changes in direction.
  1. Bear Crawls: Bear crawls simulate the crawling motion, engaging the entire body, including the core, shoulders, and hips. This exercise improves core stability, coordination, and enhances overall functional movement patterns.
Variety: The Key to Continuous Progress
  • Variety is the spice of life, and it certainly holds true in the realm of fitness. Incorporating a diverse range of exercises into group exercise classes keeps participants engaged, challenges their bodies in new ways, and prevents plateaus. Including various modalities such as cardio intervals, resistance training circuits, bodyweight exercises, and even elements of dance or martial arts can create an exciting and well-rounded workout experience.
  • Variety also allows individuals to target different muscle groups, prevent overuse injuries, and improve overall fitness levels. Moreover, changing up the routine regularly helps stimulate the mind, making workouts more enjoyable and increasing adherence to the exercise program.
The Power of Group Dynamics
  • Group exercise classes offer a unique social and motivational element that can significantly impact individuals’ adherence to their fitness journey. The energy and camaraderie of a group environment can push participants to give their all, go beyond their perceived limits, and achieve their fitness goals faster. Group workouts foster a sense of community, providing support, encouragement, and accountability, which can be crucial for long-term success.
  • By combining resistance training, functional movements, and variety in group exercise classes, fitness enthusiasts can unleash their true potential. The holistic approach of such classes allows individuals to build strength, improve mobility, and elevate overall fitness levels in a fun and supportive environment.

Group exercise classes present a treasure trove of fitness benefits. By incorporating resistance training, functional movements, and variety into these classes, fitness enthusiasts can achieve remarkable results. Whether it’s sculpting muscles, enhancing real-life performance, or avoiding workout plateaus, the triad of resistance training, functional movements, and variety provides a winning formula. So, take advantage of the power of group dynamics, find a class that incorporates these elements, and embark on a journey of physical transformation and overall well-being.

Please Note: The information provided in this article are the opinions and professional experience of the author and not all activities are recommended for the beginner or participants with underlying health conditions. Before following any advice or starting any fitness, health and wellbeing journey please consult with an Allied Health Professional and / or General Practitioner.


  1. The Importance of Resistance Exercise Training to Combat Neuromuscular Aging
  2. Why Functional Fitness Is Important for Everyone
Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin

Steve has spent the last 19 years in the Australian Fitness Industry as a Group Fitness Instructor, 1-1 Coach, State Manager, Business Owner and is currently an Educator for the Australian Institute of Fitness. A lifelong fitness enthusiast he started his working life in the Military which guided him into the fitness industry where his passion for helping others on their health and fitness journey has been realised. Steve believes that for anyone thinking about getting fit or healthy they should “just get started” as “doing something is better than doing nothing”.

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