Primal, or basic human movements, are essential movements we perform everyday whether intentional or not. These movements allow us to accomplish simple, day to day tasks and much larger and more demanding functions. In fact, we perform some of these movements consistently throughout the day. The question though is how efficiently are we able to perform these movements in relation to goal/task acquisition. Training these movements at least once per week each will transfer over to normal movement skills refinement and functionality.
The Primal Human Movements:
- Squat – comparable to sitting down and standing up; bodyweight squat is simple movement that can be progressed or regressed through varying levels of resistance (barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, etc.), ROM (range of motion) and support (single leg, TRX, etc.); squat mobility issues start from the ground up (ankle mobility, tight calves, tight hip flexors).
2. Lunge – skill transfer into walking, stair climbing, stepping over objects, throwing/catching objects as in sports and picking up objects from the floor; dynamic exercise that varies by direction (forward, reverse, sideways) and by resistance (barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, sandbag, med ball, etc.); core stability and strength is a major determinant of performing lunges correctly.
3. Hinge – bending at the hips as to reach down and pick up objects such as baby from the floor, suitcase, shopping bags, etc.; classic deadlift movement is one of the most functional of daily movement patterns and excellent posterior chain strengthening exercise; ROM and resistance can be varied through several techniques (barbell, dumbell deadlifts, regular/Romanian deadlifts, kettlebell swings, step-ups, etc.); bear the weight on glutes and leg muscles without rounding the lower back for proper execution; most people have experienced lower back pain, likely due to poor and inefficient movement patterns (specifically hinge pattern).
4. Push – pushing your body off the ground, pushing an object away from you, pushing an object overhead (storage container on top shelf); 2 primary pushing movement: vertical and horizontal; vertical pushing will emphasize shoulders, triceps, upper/middle back and horizontal will emphasize pecs, shoulders and triceps; exercise include: bench press, push ups, dumbbell overhead press, sled push, etc.
5. Pull – pulling weight/object towards your body or pulling your center of mass towards an object; daily tasks that require pulling may include: pull starting lawnmower, opening doors, reaching for objects, etc.; 2 variations of pulling: vertical and horizontal; pull ups and different variations of rows (barbell, dumbbell, lat pulldown, etc.) are exercises for building pulling strength.
6. Rotational (both rotational and Anti-rotational) – rotational movement occurs in several daily tasks and skills such as basic twisting, reaching across the body, throwing motion, etc.; anti-rotation movement occurs when you are resisting external forces to the body that may rotate or twist you at the center of mass; most exercises do not have a rotational component to them; without rotational stability and strength, the probability for injury during rotational and anti-rotational movement (jerking of the body to swerve or duck an object) may result in potential injury; rotational exercises include: cable wood chops, palloff press, med ball throws, single arm dumbbell row, etc.
7. Gait – includes walking, jogging, sprinting, jumping and requires pulling, lunging and rotation motions to propel the body in varying directions; Gait is the most frequently used movement we use daily (walking to/from car to house door, sprinting to catch a ball, lunging/bending down to pick up an object); training strength, mobility and stability in the first six primal movement patterns will allow for gait patterns to be more efficient, effective and will decrease the likelihood for injury; exercises for gait pattern include (farmer carry, overhead carries, walking, sprinting, etc.); most gait issues lead from pelvic and hip problems, also from poor posture from rounded shoulders; training the previous 6 primal patterns could help with poor posture and hip related issues, thus improving upon gait pattern issues.