3 Functional Conditioning Drills for Superior Fitness

By Brandon Richey

When looking at conditioning your body, there are a few variables to consider. For one does your conditioning program help to improve your overall fitness for life? Being human our physical makeup is designed in such a way that we are built for performing intervals of work followed by intervals of recovery. The process by which we can do this efficiently determines our fitness.

In today’s article,I want to focus in on how you can go about acquiring a high level of functional conditioning. In short, this means I want to cover some drills here to help you in the process of developing the type of conditioning to elevate your performance for fitness, life, and sport. These movements are tested and are tried and true for helping you to build a lean athletic body that can be conditioned for most anything in life.

Agility Ladder Lateral High Knee Runs

The agility ladder is an awesome tool because you really don’t need a lot of space in order to use it. In fact, if you have some flat open floor (or open ground) then you can quickly and easily apply some agility ladder drills to your day’s training.

The lateral high knee runs on the agility ladder enable you to adequately perform some sprint conditioning in a relatively small space. Additionally the ladder serves as a marker to help you to optimize your sprinting technique.

By using the squares of the ladder you automatically have a marker and know where your foot should strike the ground when it comes to executing the drill. This will assist and enable you to develop a pattern so that you can hone your technique involving the execution of the drill.

The lateral high knee runs can be performed by starting out with your body positioned so that you have to perform the lateral run either advancing to your left or to your right. It doesn’t matter which direction you start because you’re going to execute a run in both directions.

To begin the drill stand and lift the lead in leg up with your thigh parallel to the ground. Offset your arms so that when you lead in with the lead foot your arms will move in a natural motion to offset your elbow and knee drive in a proper sprint, or running gait.

To simplify this if you’re advancing to your left then stand next to the first square of the ladder with your left leg elevated and your right arm forward. From here when you drop your left foot into the first square of the ladder your right knee will then lift and your left arm should move into the forward position.

Continue the lateral high knee runs with speed and precision until you reach the end of the ladder. Once you reach the end take a couple of breaths and run back in the opposite direction. Once you have ran to each end then you have completed a repetition.


Perform 5 sprint runs of this drill on your functional conditioning days.

Knee Tuck Jumps

These are a tremendous drill for helping you to develop significant leg power. Knee tuck jumps can also be performed just about anywhere you can find a flat surface. There is no equipment needed to pull these off.

Knee tuck jumps are a mid to high intensity plyometric drill which is designed to help you develop speed and power with your legs. In addition to this the knee tuck jumps are one hell of a conditioning drill in terms of your anaerobic work. These will get your heart pumping in a hurry.

Begin knee tuck jumps by standing with our feet at hip width distance apart. From here jump and pull your knees up towards your stomach and chest tucking the knees while in mid air.

Once you tuck the knees in the middle of the jump extend your legs so that your feet hit the ground softly setting your legs up to recoil and perform a subsequent jump. Continue the jumps in rapid succession until you complete the designated number of repetitions.


For intermediate to advanced athletes perform 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 10 reps on your leg power training days.

Glide Disc Speed Mountain Climbers

This drill presents a unique set of challenges. If you’ve used glide discs before then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

You can either use fitness glide discs or furniture mover discs you can pick up at your local Home Depot or other such store. The disc is to be placed on a smooth carpeted surface, or over smooth turf in order to utilize it.

From here place the balls of your feet at the center of each glide disc with your hands on the ground and your body in an upright push up position. Next, pull one of your knees up towards your chest keeping your body streamlined with your neck, spine, hips, and extended leg in a straight line.

Once you elevate the one knee immediately extend it bringing the opposite knee to your chest. Brace your core midsection and continue to drive your knees up and down in rapid motion for the purpose of producing speed.

This drill is great for helping you to develop both core stability along with control and the development of speed. This drill is much more challenging than it appears.


Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 15 reps counting each leg on your speed and functional conditioning days.

The Takeaway

When looking to enhance your conditioning for performance and life you have to be willing think outside the box. Functional conditioning drills like the ones stated here are going to challenge you in a completely different way and help you to be physically functional and ready for most any scenario you might fall into.

Are you currently incorporating any functional conditioning drills into your fitness program?

What drills are you currently using to become more functionally conditioned?

Please post up and share in the comment section here below.

If you need help with improving your functional conditioning, make sure you visit me at Brandon Richey Fitness.


SEALgrinderPT coach Brandon Richey is a certified strength and conditioning coach, author, and founder of Brandon Richey Fitness.

He has worked with thousands of athletes over his 17 years of experience, developing fitness training programs for beginners to professional and D-1 level collegiate athletes at the University of Georgia.

Brandon also trains MMA and Muay Thai athletes, both professional and amateur.



QUESTION: Hi, Coach. I recently joined your membership and I’ve been doing the workouts I can or scaling when I can’t but I’m getting blisters on my hands from the pull-ups. Do I just need to deal until my hands heal up and get tougher? Do you have some tips for helping the healing process?

ANSWER: Your hands will will toughen up. But you also do need to take care of them because you want to build calluses not more blisters which can get worse. Check out tips here.




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