Top 8 Exercises Using Functional Blocks

Quite often we have customers who love the idea of kitting out their gym with a set of multi-purpose Origin Fitness functional blocks but ask us the question, 'how much use would I actually get out of these?' It's a fair comment for them to have because far too often are managers guilty of making additions to their gyms which seem like a great idea at first, but actually turn out to have fewer real life applications than we expected. So that's why we've written up this post listing our top 8 exercises using functional blocks (also known as rubber or ballistics blocks).

1. Step Ups

Step ups are a simple and effective movement to get the major leg muscles working individually. Performing weighted step ups is a great way to increase the difficultly of the exercise, and equally, stacking the functional blocks to increase the height of the step and therefore the range of movement is another good progression.

2. Toe Touches

Toe touches are a great addition to high intensity circuits or a leg workout which can really get the heart rate raised. Perform them as quickly as possible for a set length of time or number of reps. The aim is to start with one leg raised with the ball of your foot over the edge of the block - quickly drive the trail leg upwards into this position, as you simultaneously bring the raised leg back to the ground.

3. Power Cleans from Blocks

Another great use for functional blocks is using them to raise an Olympic bar and bumpers off the ground for training part-movements. This is especially useful in busy CrossFit style gyms where Olympic style lifts are prominent in the programming but rack space with spotter arms might be limited. In our video we demonstrate using the blocks to remove the initial 'first pull' phase, letting the athlete focus on starting from the 'transition' or 'mid-thigh hang'.


4. Plyometric Press Ups

These are another press up progression which can be performed in a variety of ways. The most common implementation is the clapping press up, but in our video we've demonstrated an explosive press up where the hands are moved between a higher and lower level base. Start with a narrower base on the floor between two blocks, then press up exploding so that your extended arms leave the floor. Finish the movement by landing with a wider base on top of the blocks.

5. Box Squats

Start with a box behind you, either inside a power rack if you intend to perform a weighted squat, or in open space if you're just going for a bodyweight movement. In a controlled movement lower your hips to the ground keeping your back shoulders, and core tight until you reach the box, at this point you should sit down and relax, making sure you don't rebound of the box immediately. Drive downwards through your heels and complete the squat by returning to a standing position.

6. Deficit Press Ups

One press up progression that can be used to increase the range of movement that the shoulders and biceps are forced to work through is a deficit press up. This movement is quite popular with CrossFit coaches as a means to progression onto ring press ups and can be performed using anything from paralletes to bumper plates or in our case, functional blocks.


7. Box Jumps

Starting from a relaxed stance with feet shoulder-width apart, you should bend your knees and then drive upwards and forwards to land on the box with both feet. Repeat this movement for as many repetitions as required. Remember it's important to make sure the rest phase between each rep is kept to a minimum to make sure you are developing explosive plyometric strength.

8. Lateral Jumps

Lateral jumps are another plyometric exercise which develops explosivity and power in the lower body, this time also focussing on developing the hip and knee stabilizing muscles which are crucial in performing lateral movements. Stand with a narrow stance and bounce over the block from one side to another, making sure to minimise the static phase after landing and before the next jump.

Origin Fitness' Top Tip

Use the functional block to help your shorter members get onto and off of pull up bars safely.