Movement Patterns: The 6 Fundamentals You Need To Be Training
If you want to be a well-rounded human and Move Better, Feel Better, Be Better. You need to be working the big 6 movement patterns. The reason these are the 6 fundamentals, is that if you can perform these big 6 perfectly, there isn’t much you can’t deal with on a day to day basis.
They are also the building blocks for progressing into more complex movements, such as Olympic lifting, kipping movements, plyometrics (dynamic), or HIIT. They start with the following, but once you master them, the sky is the limit:
The 6 Fundamental Movement Patterns
When most people think of these movement patterns they relate them to gym exercises. But these patterns are movements we perform multiple times daily as we go through our day to day routines.
- Squat – getting in and out of a chair, sitting on the toilet, getting in and out of a car
- Hinge – Picking something up off the floor, the first movement of the squat, lifting a suitcase up
- Lunge – picking something off the floor if your have tight hamstrings, patting a dog, a transitional movement between gutting up off the floor.
- Push – pushing someone away, helping push a broken down car, getting up off the floor after laying on your stomach, Putting something in the top cupboard
- Pull – pulling a loved one in for a hug or kiss, Grabbing something out of the cupboard, helping someone up off the ground, pull ups.
- Carry – Carrying the groceries to the car or home, grabbing a laptop out of the back seat of the car to carry it home. Carrying a suitcase of bag, taking the garbage out.
I think you get the point.
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The Movement Pattern Hierarchy
Whilst these are the basic movement patterns, there is also a hierarchy of variations available for each of the movement patterns. Just because you need them in your day to day life, doesn’t mean all of them need to be practised in the gym or with a barbell. But they do need to be practised.
The King of all movements, and the one that is going to save your back a lot of pain in the future (if you nail it) or be blamed for your back pain (if you butcher it). The Hip hinge is the ability to keep a stable trunk and stable lower body whilst moving through the hips (think of a door hinge where the piece of attached the door is locked in and the piece attached to the frame is rock solid).
When this happens you limit the demands placed on your lower back which is typically used as a stabilising structure (for more info on this check out What’s Mostability? What do I NEED to Know About IT?). If you aren’t stressing your lower back out, you won’t get lower back pain. If your back is stronger then the demands you are placing on it, It won’t give you pain signals.
The prerequisites for a rock solid deadlift are:
- Core bracing
- Straight leg raise: 90*
- Ability to touch your toes
- Lat activation
Probably the most functional movement we teach, you do a heap of squats every day without even meaning to. And if your form isn’t dialled in, it can lead to muscle imbalances and pain. The squat starts off with a hip hinge, and then co-ordinated bending of the knees until you reach your required depth. You don’t need to go full ass to grass depth (and in some circumstances due to anatomy of the hips you won’t be able to get there without some compensation in the lower back), But you should be able to at least get in and out of a chair (so the thighs are parallel to the floor) with your body weight.
The Pre requisites for a superior squat:
- Core bracing
- Ankle mobility – knees past toes
- Hip mobility – knee above hip (for box squats), knee to chest (ass to grass squats)
- Knee stability – able to perform ¼ squat without knee caving in
The lunge develops the stability portion of your lower limb exercises. It starts to bring in more foot and ankle, knee and hip stability. Whilst you won’t be able to load them up as much as the double leg squat and hinge patterns. When done correctly they will greatly improve your numbers on these lifts and improve your balance and performance when walking or running.
Great variations on the lunge include:
The first movements that jump to mind are the bench press and the push up for this movement pattern. Probably two of the most common exercises seen in the gym. They also happen to be the two most commonly butchered movement patterns you will see.
Although they seem quite simple on the surface, they require a complex interplay of trunk stability, shoulder tension, and muscle co-ordination to even get you up off the floor for a push–up. The Push–up should be mastered before attempting any other form of pushing.
Keys to getting your first push-up or perfecting your current push up include:
- Create tension in the shoulders by screwing the hands into the ground
- Start the push with a serratus push-up to connect the torso to the trunk
- Engage the core to maintain a solid plank rather than a floppy pool noodle
- Think long through the spine to keep your neck and back in proper alignment.
Still need help: Try the Serratus push – up first:
Serratus Push Up:
Once you are all over the horizontal push and creating tension in the shoulders and integrating trunk stability, repeat the process with the vertical push:
- Create tension in the shoulders
- Stack the joints
- Drive from the core
As with the push the pull, it can be broken up into a horizontal and vertical component. Many people know about the pull up but not so many people incorporate the horizontal pull into their program. This can lead to shoulder issues as the horizontal pull shoulder be mastered before the vertical pull.
As with the push patterns the horizontal pull teaches shoulder stability and trunk integration. For bulletproof shoulders 2 horizontal pulls should be incorporated into your strength program for every vertical push/pull and horizontal push variation.
Bent Over Row:
Banded Lat Pull:
Probably the easiest exercise to see how this fits into our day to day life. The carry is the epitome of functional movements. Think walking, running, sprinting – basically any sport you will play in your life. But like everything we must learn to walk before we run. Just because you can run, doesn’t mean you should run. Walking and running is something we sometimes take for granted as humans. It is something almost everyone does on a daily basis, but is a complex interaction of single leg strength, stability, co-ordination and integration.
The trunk needs to integrate the upper body and lower body, the leg needs to be stable and strong enough to hold us up and we need co-ordination to make sure we don’t trip over our own 2 feet.
Develop your farmer carries:
Double Suitcase Carry:
Single Arm Suitcase Carry:
Overhead Farmers Carry:
As with all these exercises, start with the basics and focus on form. Once confident, you can begin to add load and as always keep it varied, to it interesting and prevent your body free of overuse injuries.