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Double KB Russian Swing + Front Squat Complex
10 reps of each. The first 10 with fatigue the posterior chain nicely and add a level of difficulty to the squatting that is unique. This is an all around great complex. Performed here at 80lbs per hand (36kg)
10 each
BB Heel Elevated Split Squat
Focus on vertical torso position throughout the range of motion and sit back to activate the posterior chain. The additional heel lift with force a little more quad engagement in the movement.
Overhead Squat (Concentric Only)
Learning how to build tension from the bottom up is a great way to deepen your understanding of your positions. Find where your shoulders, core, and hips sign for optimal drive. A great add on if you are working Snatch drills on a specific day.
Dual Kettlebell Deadlift + Clean + Front Squat
These complexes are a great way to test out how well you transition between different movement patterns. Additionally by using Kettlebells you are making your shoulders work unilaterally to stabilize and any balances are very quick to show their face. Performed here at 70lbs or 32kg for 4 sets.
8 Deadlifts, 6 Hang Clean, 4 Front Squats
Front Foot Elevated Front Rack Split Squat
Performed here at a 2020 tempo, this movement exposes your hip flexibility and single leg strength.
Front Squat (Concentric Only)
The ability to build tension from the bottom up in a squat is a great strength transfer exercise to improve your squat out of a clean. Position here is key. Take time to set up the height of your blocks correctly. Loading will likely be lower than your traditional top down squats.
Barbell FBB Complex
This is a potent low back and hip strengthener. Find a load you can successfully complete all 25 reps Unbroken with. Post to comments
https://www.instagram.com/p/BYYVblrgjP5/?hl=en&taken-by=functional.bodybuilding5 Kang Squat 5 Reverse Lunge/leg 5 Good Morning 5 Back Squats
Back Rack Bulgarian Split Squat
One of the more advanced single leg progressions we use. This one is excellent for those looking to build some mobility into their anterior chain. Tight hip flexor and shoulders? This can open you up like a can opener. Use movements to achieve something more than just strength!
Pause Back Squat
Apply meaningful tempos to your lifts and you can change their impact on your training. Tempo is yet another variable that you can manipulate, much like adding chains or bands, that can help vary the stimulus within a movement pattern. Displayed above is a 33X1 tempo. Read as 3 seconds lowering, 3 seconds pause st the bottom, up with fast intent (X), and a 1 second reset at the top. Slow eccentrics like these and pauses at the bottom of squats, aside from building strength through added time under tensions during the lifts, allow the athlete to learn control through different ranges of the movement and become better capable of applying force evenly through different ranges of the exercise.
Front Lunge + Reverse Lunge
Performed at a pause tempo this combination of single leg strength with change of direction will challenge core, hips, and legs.
Front Rack Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
Another great RFESS variation that can help coordinate work on your rack position with single leg work. This one in particular seems to really isolate hip function and is a little less sketchy than the back rack loaded version since you can more safely dump the bar should you need to.
Pause Overhead Squats
We get asked often how to correct positions on higher skill movements like the Overhead Squat. Sometimes the best thing you can do is spend extra time in these positions. Weighted or unweighted, increasing you time under tension by adding pauses of varying lengths to these lifts. Another added benefit of pause Squats is they break up the eccentric and concentric phases of the lift. You therefore cannot rely as heavily on the stretch reflex that many athletes become dependent on. Learn how to build concentric strength from a stopped position with pauses.
Dumbbell Squat Snatch + Overhead Lunge Complex
Functional Bodybuilding programming at the more advanced level involves grouping different movement patterns together in complexes. Several elements at play here increase the difficulty of the movement.
1. Unilateral overhead loading - unbalanced + long distance from force production contact point and load
2. Mobility - SA overhead squat demands a high degrees of flexibility and stability
3. Dynamic Speed Lift - the Snatch demands multiple different patterns of movement that are coordinated precisely
4. Changing from one movement to another (Snatch to Lunge) and from one side to another (left to right) within the same unbroken complex means switching motor patterns constantly within the complex.
Barbell Overhead Cossack Squat
This barbell version of the Cossack Squat is a great flexibly and mobility version. You can really hone your overhead squat positions as well as build a lot of mobility into your hips and adductors.
Bottom Up Front Squat
Rather than start the lift with an eccentric contraction we are starting with concentric. We are also starting the squat under not tension by placing the rack at the right height. This is a great tool for learning how to find position at the bottom the squat under no load. It can help translate to the clean when you are moving from a free fall into catching your Barbell and having to remain stable.
Functional Pump Complex
Test your balance and coordination with this single arm KB Complex Challenge from FBB.
For Max Load on Each Arm
3 KB Cleans
3 KB Front Squats
3 KB Thrusters
Barbell Front Rack Cossack Squat
The front rack loading pattern for the cossack squat is a great way to build your front rack mobility and position for cleans. It also helps to load up your anterior chain even more, and with that loading pattern you can focus a little more on your quads.
Concentric Only Front Squat
I love these for building dead stop strength from the bottom of the squat. If challenges you to find position without tension. Additionally if you skip the eccentric contraction there is less muscle damage and recovery needed from these sessions. Good for a deload week from training.
Back Rack Cossack Squat
By now you have seen the Cossack Squat in a ton of variations on this page. We love this movement for its combined mobility and single leg strengthening benefits. Placing the bar on the back during this allows for postural muscles to turn on in the back that will reinforce good positions when you turn to Back Squatting later on. Start light and consider adding in pauses at the bottom
Ten Second Pistol Squat
Today’s challenge brought to you by #functionalbodybuilding is to perform a pistol squat in each leg with a 10 second lowering. This is a great test to expose side to side imbalances and flexibility limitations. If you have a strength deficit or range of motion limitation they will be exposed. You can then focus on that range area of the movement in training.
Barbell Overhead Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
WIth the barbell placed overhead, this exercise place a big anterior chain stretch on the body. You will get the benefits of the single leg strength along with mobility benefits too.
This drill was seen by our friend @natalierios. Thanks for the continued inspiration from all our friends and followers.
Tempo Dual Kettlebell Front Rack Squat
Some coaches will make the argument that loading with KBs or DBs for squatting in the rack position will self limit based upon upper back strength before leg strength. While there is some truth to this, that you will fail first due in part to the limits of your upper body being able to support the load, it still serves as a terrific eat to load for squatting. The reason being is that is very effectively coordinates Lower and Upper body strength demands in one movement. In a heavy set of these perform as in the video with a 30X0 tempo, you cannot lose focus on either lower body or upper body position and tension. A set of 10 reps performed here at 40kg per hand. The upper back and trunk get a massive dose from this.
DB Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
Yet another loading variation on the RFESS. This loading option is more accessible than the barbell rack positions we have shown recently. It is dull however a higher demand single Leg exercise and one that shouldn't be given to the beginner athlete. We also use this as an assessment score. Maximal load per hand that one can successfully complete 8 repetitions/leg without paying balance. Knee must touch the floor on each rep and foot placement is 3 steps away from bench with top of back foot resting on the pad.
Bottom Up KB Front Squat
This is a terrific way to challenge your squat posture and position. Any forward deviation will make holding the bells upside down very difficult. The bottom up position as we have stated a number of times helps connect the upper flexor chain and scapula to any movement.
Dumbell Suitcase Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
Also known as the Bulgarian Split Squat. This is a potent single leg knee flexion exercise that can be loaded in a variety of ways for slight variations of stimulus.
This is a level 3 assessment test for our athletes. We find an 8 repetition maximum on this exercise. Dumbbell goal load is 1/3 of bodyweight per hand for 8 controlled reps per leg.
Single Arm KB Thruster
Don’t be fooled by the demo video here. This is not an easy exercise and as soon as you load it up heavy you will feel all the muscle in your core, obliques, and low back fire up! As a test, perform 5 reps followed by a 20m front rack carry at the heaviest weight you can possible on each arm. Rest as needed and repeat for 5 sets.
Weighted Pistol Negatives
This is a great dull to help you build single leg strength in the pistol of you don't have the full strength yet to perform concentric reps yet. Loading in this way helps with balance too. Slow lowering with great hip and knee control followed by a two foot ascent.
Dual KB Rack Squat
So simple and so effective. Please slow down for this one and start light. The position of the upper body is KEY! Build a proper rack positions. Your scaps and shoulders have a ton to gain from this drill. The upper body endurance from higher rep sets of this movement is notable.
Goblet Cossack Squat
Developing single leg strength can be creative and fun. Think about exploring new positions and patterns with uneven loading from side to side. The Cossack Squat is a terrific blend of flexibility and single leg strength. The postural development in this movement combined with the previously mentioned benefits are a great way to approach training for Pistol Squats.
KB Rack 1/4 Squat Pulse
This serves as a great burn out for the quads, especially the VMO, while simultaneously reinforcing the Rack position and requisite upper back strength.
Single Arm KB Rack Pistol
WARNING - Advanced single leg training. This one isn't for the single leg beginner.
Instead what this serves as is a demonstration of how si glen leg training, just like any other movement pattern, has the ability to scale way up. We need to see that progressions don't always have to be with heavier loads or faster reps. Learning new movements with harder physical demands is a way to challenge you body and brain.
Progress, don't just go harder.
KB Sumo Jump Squats
For an explosive squat variation that places the load in a very safe and easy to access position, try these. These pair well with a heavier barbell squat done as a superset. Try a heavy set in the Front Squat for 3-5reps, followed 30sec later with a set of 12-15 jump squats.
Bottoms Up KB Front Rack Cossack Squat
The Cossack Squat has been featured here as a great tool to develop single Leg strength and balance while also improving mobility.
The addition of the bottom Up loading pattern is a great way to connect the upper body with this lower body focused drill.
Single Arm KB Rack Squat
As this exercise gets heavier, so to the anti rotational demands as well as the shoulder stability demands. Challenge yourself to stay vertical and not lean way from the load.
KB Front Rack Box Pistol
Box Pistols and the variations we use here at Fucntional Bodybuilding are a great way to move closer to being able to execute a full pistol squat. The box elevation make it such that you don’t have to have the full flexibility in the non working leg to perform the pistol. This loading pattern places a large emphasis on the upper middle back.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BaJYX8sglWr/?hl=en&taken-by=functional.bodybuildingGoblet Squats
SIMPLE = STRONG. These squats are so simple yet so effective in patterning great vertical torso position and squat positions. We love these in conditioning workouts as well as basic strength protocols for new athletes learning the motor control of squatting.
Double Kettlebell Cossack Squat with Press
We have covered how powerful the cossack squat can be to build proprioception on the single leg and motor control to lead into pistol squats. Adding load elevated complexity and intensity. The press variation here is going to challenge balance and place a huge demand on thoracic extension. Something people often lose in knee flexion exercises.
Dual KB Front Rack Box Pistol
This variation in the pistol progression is advanced and is a great strengthening tool for those who have pistols already. It reinforces an upright torso position with the KB’s in the rack. Lastly with the box elevation the flexibility demand is less and therefore can be overloaded with weight.
Pause Kettlebell Front Rack Pistol
Single Leg Knee Flexion
Slow Eccentric + Isometric Contractions
Advanced Skill

Slowing down and showing control in the pistol squat is a step that is so easily skipped in the vast majority of training progressions. We have great progressions on how to build up to a Pistol and slow eccentrics and pauses are really key to building the proper foundation. This set is performed with a 33X1 tempo on each rep.
KB Front Rack Shrimp Squats
Shrimp Squats are a great test of mobility and single leg strength. The ability to get the back knee to the floor is a great test and also a good balance to doing traditional pistols with the leg in front.
Start slow and unloaded and see if you can get the full range of motion. Hold the back foot behind you like a quad stretch if needed.
Single Arm KB Cossack Squat to Press
Work on your single leg strength and power with this combination of balance, flexibility, and coordinated. If any one of those parts is missing you will not experience any of the strength and power benefits, but rather will meet frustration. If that is the case remove the load and return to do Cossack Squat bodyweight to develop the necessary tools to come back to this and experience the full benefits. Start simple!
Kneeling Jump to Plates
The kneeling jump is a great blend of hip speed and coordination. The strength and power requirements of this movement might restrict some from being able to try it. If you can’t quite get this done safely, I suggest going to banded hip thrusts performed at speed to get the glutes firing fast. The addition of plates is for those looking to add a little challenge and accuracy piece to the hip speed drill.
Single Arm KB Rack Pistol
Loading up the Pistol Squat really is a test of how good your positions and control are. KB Rack loafing demands an Upright Torso position to keep the load balanced. Pistols often force the torso forward due to range of motion restriction on the part of the athlete.
Single Arm KB Rack Pistol w/ Pause
Advanced Movement Alert! The reason it is advanced is because of the Loaded nature of the exercise as well as the flexibility requirements of the movement. Scale - of you want to try this but can do a pistol just yet, then try standing on a box about knee height and letting one leg hang from the side. Lower the hanging leg to the floor and tap the heel lightly before coming back up. .
Goblet Deficit Cossack Lunge
Stand on a 2-3” plate and step laterally into a Lunge. The focus in the cossack series of movements is always to hit great positions and ensure we are building mobility along with strength. The goblet position is a great way to assist in keep an upright torso as it can offset the load of the hips sinking back and down for the squat.
Mixed KB Rack Suitcase Front Foot Elevated Split Squat
This movement is packed with lots of side to side challenges. The loading patterns is advanced as is the elevation of one foot in the split squat. Ensure you can perform level split squats before progressing to this patterns.
Goblet Cossack Squat
The Cossack squat is a terrific tool to build single leg strength and flexibility in the adductors and ankles. The goblet loading patterns can be for some a tool to improve position if they are tight and struggling to maintain upright torso positions during the exercise.
Kettlebell Rack Anti Rotation Split Squat
The set up here is a little tricky but once you are settled in this single leg drill is a great challenge on the core and hips. Staying balanced and fighting the rotation of the lateral pull from the band makes this a more complex variation of the Split Squat.
Give this a try and pair it with some wide grip Strict pull ups.
Single Arm KB Rack RNT Split Squat
Use the RNT split squat with beginners to teach motor control, or with advanced trainees to reinforce great patterns of single leg knee flexion.
Pair this with a unilateral upper body pull like the chainsaw row.
Suitcase Anti Rotation Split Squat
Not only does the perpendicular pull of the band apply a great rotational stimulus to the core, the support scapula that is holding the band gets great stability.
Pair this with an open chain single arm pulling exercise of your choice. DB Torso Row.
Goblet Curtsy Squat
This single knee flexion exercise is a terrific way to train the posterior chain and really target the lateral aspect of the glutes.
We love the stretch you get from this movement along with the strength benefits.
Petersen Step Up
This drill is helpful to build the muscles around the knee for knee tracking and health. VMO activation and strengthening with this single leg drill. Sets of 10 for 3-4 sets as part of warm up on knee flexion days.
Axel Bar Front Rack Step Up
Using Axel bars for Front Rack work is a great way to challenge your trunk stability and shoulder flexibility and strength. Using the Axel Bar for this single leg builder is a potent combination of the lower and upper strength.
Axel Bar Front Rack Low Box Step Up
Axel bars are a great variation when performing front rack loaded exercise. The bar being a little fatter than a traditional bar will place a different stimulus on the shoulder mobility in order to hold the rack position. Choosing a low box is a great way to ensure really good hip control in the step up. Try lowering your box next time you do step ups and use load to intensify if needed.
DB Russian Step Up
- One of the more challenging variations of single leg training. Added coordination and balance are required for the knee raise. Use this to develop the leg strength and hip stability for better pistol squats.
- Focus on hip extension in this movement. Control the eccentric and try not to push up off he back leg. Load this light and start with a box that is the same height as the patella when standing.
Contralateral Single Arm DB Overhead Step up
Box Step ups are a great way to work you single leg strength and hip control. Building up in height of box isn’t the only way to progress this exercise. We can apply a variety of different loading patterns. The single arm overhead dumbbell loading pattern will give you a very potent lower back stability and rotational strength dose.
Dumbbell Step Up
The step up is so often performed incorrectly. It is worth returning to basics on this movement and simply loading with dumbbells in the suitcase position.
Points of performance
- Choose a box height just below the knee cap
- Hips should stay level. Imagine your waist band has to stay parallel to the floor at all times
- Your forward leg on the box does all the work through the entire range of motion. - The trailing leg does NOT help by pushing off the floor and only lightly taps the top of the box to finish the movement.
Barbell Jump Lunges
Start with a light load in these to ensure you have the balance and coordination to accomplish them safely and effectively. These are a booty burner. Complete these under even the slightest amount of fatigue and you wake up realizing why Lunges are good for the glutes.
Dumbbell Front Rack Walking Lunge
We are moving away from the static Reverse Lunges in this profession. Walking lunges pace more of a demand on the athlete than static. Requiring better brain control and balance. We have brought the load back to the center of gravity in order to ensure we decreased loading complexity when we increased movement complexity.
Movements all have progressions within their patterns. Find them, try them, and learn how to enhance your movement selection toolbox.
Kettlebell Crossbody Walking Lunge
The Walking Lunge is a favorite of ours for its varied applications in a strength and conditioning program. Using varied loading positions can change the stimulus greatly. The KB Cross Body positions is one that challenges shoulder stability and provides an uneven load to the hips when lunging forcing greater motor control demands.
Mixed KB Rack + OH Walking Lunge
If you have followed along you have seen us move from RNT static Lunges with simple loading patterns, to dynamic waking Lunges with a odd balance loading pattern overhead in this final part. How can you use these progressions? Spend 2 weeks in each movement. Hit it 1-2x per week in training and progress through. Add load and reps each week as you start to get more confident.
Kettlebell Suitcase Walking Lunge
This is a very simple loading pattern that would be one of the first loading position to progress to in the walking lunge once you have mastered good motor control. We have used this position for lunging, particularly with kettlebells, because it lends itself well to complexes with deadlifts.
5 KB Deadlifts
10 KB Suitcase Walking Lunges
5 KB Deadlifts
KB Rack Cossack Lunge
This is a great prep exercise for front squatting. In a day when you are going to lift heavy in the front squat try warming up with these. Additionally how about this complex
5 KB Rack Squats
5 KB Rack Cossack Lunge R
5 KB Rack Thruster
5 KB Rack Cossack Lunge L
Rest as needed x 3
Dual KB Rack Cossack Lunge to Press
The Cossack Lunge differs from the Cossack Squat in the same way a Split Squat defers from a Reverse Lunge. The movement of the feet from together to split, and the accompanying translation of the bodies center of gravity further than the squat variation is unique.
Add in the Rack loading and press you have a recipe for higher single Leg demand and power.
Slide Board Lateral Lunge
Get your super sliders now so you can start to implement these slide board drills in your training. This is a great single leg drill with a ton of balance and flexibility points to overcome. Start slow and be aware of the extended leg on the return to standing. The adductors want to pull you back up and can get some aggressive stretching here.
Reverse Sled Drag
- Go heavy and keep the body at a 45 degree angle. These sled drags require full body effort. Additionally they target the knee extensors (think leg extensions) and upper back for a great pairing on knee flexion or horizontal pull days.
- These have been a staple for the past year in training. The benefits to anterior leg strength have been profound. Really develops strong musculature around the knees for health and function. VMO developing you want? These work. Plus the upper back gets some isometric contraction work.
KB Front Rack Duck Walk
A powerful combination of flexibility, trunk and core strength, and balance. Let Time under tensions dictate your sets and aim for 30sec or more on your sets.
Single Arm KB Rack Duck Walk
Duck walks are a great tool to improve flexibility in the ankles, knees, and hips. The unilateral KB loading pattern adds a rotational core strength element to this balance and coordination heavy exercise. Utilize these in warm ups or finishers. Do not move fast, but rather slowly and deliberately to feel all parts of the movement.