Crawl before you walk. And walk before you run. In general, most people understand the concept of building skills like walking and running and how we develop those skills throughout our lives. As babies we crawl, then we learn how to stand and shift our weight, then we learn how to walk, and eventually we can run. All of this is a linear progression.

But as adults, we general take movement for granted and try to “run before can walk” when it comes to training in the gym.

There are several basic movement patterns that most people should be able to do that are part of our natural movement patterns in day to day to life and can be enhanced with training in the gym. These movement patterns are the squat, hinge, push, pull, lunge, and carry. These are also often referred to as primal movements and they are generally required to maintain a structurally balanced body with healthy functional joints.

The squat is skill that can help people in terms of getting up and down from a sitting or crouching down to the ground for other tasks like gardening. Squatting is a movement that requires flexibility in the ankles, knees, and hips and requires stability of the trunk. The primary muscles used during the squat are the quadriceps and glutes. Some prime examples of the squat in training are: goblet squats, front squats, and back squats.

The next movement is hingeing. The hinge is an essential movement that should be the basis of picking things up from the floor. The hinge generally utilizes the glutes, hamstrings, spinal extensors. The hinge is done by bending at the hips with soft knees while keeping a flat and stable back. Examples of the hinge in the gym would be exercises like back extensions, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, hip thrusts and glute bridges.

Pushing or pressing is reflected in our day to day like during tasks like pushing open doors, it’s done by extending the elbows and flexing at the shoulder. Pushing exercises generally work our pectoral muscles, deltoids, and triceps. Some pushing exercises are push ups, overhead presses, bench presses, push presses, dips, and handstands.

Pulling is an essential movement pattern that requires the use of our back muscles (primarily lats and rhomboids) and biceps. Examples of pulling in day to day life could be reflected in any climbing or pulling open doors and gates. Pulling movements in training include: rows, pull downs, chin ups, and deadlifts.

Lungeing while similar to squatting is an expression of single leg or unilateral strength and stability. Lungeing has high carryover into any movements that bring us to a kneeling position as well as running and walking. Lungeing in training can also be any regression or progression relating to single leg strength development. The primary muscles involved in lunge variations are the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Examples of lungeing exercises include walking lunges, reverse lunges, cossack squats, curtsey lunges, split squats, step ups, and side step squats.

Carrying refers to carrying objects. This could be reflected in carrying backpacks, duffel bags, purses, or groceries in our day to day life. Loaded carries generally challenge core stability and work the lower traps. Because carries are done while walking they are also a fantastic corrective exercise for poor gait (walking) patterns. Loaded carries can be performed as farmer’s carries, overhead carries, waiter carries, and odd object carries. Carries can be done in a multitude of ways with various implements.

Including any of these movements in your training program will certainly help to ease your day to day life while improving your overall health and fitness. Some people love exercising for the sake of exercising, but it’s also about training for life. Life is a lot easier when you’re strong. If you get strong at squatting, hingeing, pushing, pulling, lungeing, and carrying – the physical aspects of your life are only going to get easier and easier from here. So while doing an hour of ab exercises or biceps curls may seems like fun, adding in a solid mix of primal movements into your training regime will only make you better.

Get out there and get lifting and start mastering your primal movements!

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