7 FOUNDATIONAL STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISES – PRIMAL MOVEMENTS
THE CROSS-OVER IN YOUR FITNESS PROGRAM AND DAILY LIFE
Primal movements are the basic movements that we do in our every day lives and have done since we were babies. Most people want practicality, purpose, and the ability for their fitness program to transfer into their daily lives. There are 7 primary movements you will want to include in your strength training program that will provide the greatest functionality in your every day life. Your quality of life is affected by your ability or inability to do these 7 exercises properly.
SQUAT – we do this in our everyday lives by getting in and out of a sitting position. Baby’s squat perfectly and over time, unless it’s intentional, we get lazy and lose proper functional form. You want to engage the hips and the glutes when you do this, so here are a couple of tips to maximize functionality:
From a standing position, with feet hip width apart, hinge your hips back so you feel your body weight in your heels.
Lower your body until your upper legs are parallel with the floor, feel the weight of your body press through your heels as you come up. Keep your knee behind your toes and keep your back and chest upright.
Return to the start position as you feel the weight of your body press into your heels
Variations: body weight; TRX; goblet squat; dumbbells to the sides; barbell behind or in front.
BEND AND LIFT / DEADLIFT – we do this when we pick up objects off the ground. When this exercise is done improperly, serious low back-pain can result.
Keep the knees soft, shoulders back, and butt out. The belly should feel like it’s sticking out at the front. Your spine stays firm in this position as you bend at the hips. Then simply lift up as you take the weight of what you lift into your low back and hips.
The key is to keep your back slightly arched (verses rounded). When you are bent over, your back should look flat or slightly arched (like a slight smile), rather than rounded (looking like a rainbow). When you round your back, you put significant pressure on your disks and you want to avoid this!
Variations: use dumbbells; barbell; straight-leg deadlift (although this one focuses more on the hamstrings than the low back)
LUNGE – in daily living, we do this when we step on top of or over something, use the stairs, or reach forward or to the side to step and catch something. A lunge is a single leg exercise where one leg steps forward, backward or to the side and one or both legs bend.
The key with lunges (especially with the heavier weight you use) is to make sure the knee does not extend over the big toe. When the knee extends out like this repeatedly over time, it puts severe pressure on the knee. For front or reverse squats, keep the front knee over the ankle and the back knee under the hips. Keep your upper body erect rather than leaning forward and focus on using your hips and glutes not just your legs.
Variations – Static Lunges (one leg at a time); alternating lunges; alternating reverse lunges; walking lunges; side lunges.
PUSH – in every day life we do this when we push a door open or lift something above our heads such as putting a suitcase up in an airplane. This requires strength in your chest, shoulders, triceps and the core. We can push both horizontally and vertically.
Horizontal push – pushing the weight away from you horizontally such as a bench press or push up
Vertical push – pushing the weight vertically such as a shoulder press, lateral raises, or dips.
PULL – you pull the weight toward your body such as pulling a door open or pulling a rope as in a tug-of-war. We can pull both horizontally and vertically. This requires strength in your back, rear deltoids, biceps and the core.
Horizontal pull – pulling the weight toward you horizontally such as various types of rows
Vertical pull – pulling the weight vertically such as a lat pulldown or pull-ups.
TWIST – this is any type of rotational movement such as throwing a ball, passing something from right to left or any diagonal movements. It requires core strength and flexibility in the upper back and hips
Variations: Russian twist, hay bailors, wood chops, or partner band twists.
GAIT – basically the way we move the body forward such as walking, running, jumping. You will want to make sure that your form is solid (such as having the feet be straight when you walk – not one or both feet turned out or in – sometimes referred to as “duck footed” or “pigeon toed”), so that you don’t acquire injuries later in life due to improper form.