Before we begin I must give credit to Dan John, author of Never Let Go, for his insight into the 5 basic movement patterns and his simplistic approach to training. If you haven’t heard of him before, check him out.
The first step to starting any training program is to find your gaps. Understanding the basic human movements that can be performed will help you develop strength and mobility across all areas of your body whilst simultaneously improving your performance at the sport of your choice. You’ll build athleticism and even address corrective issues developed following years of training in the same fashion. Equally, even if you’re not bothered about sporting performance, I can guarantee you’ll look better too. If you’re not doing each of the basic human movements on a weekly basis, then you need to address your training and focus on the 5 areas to keep your body healthier.
Firstly, you must make sure you are performing each of these movements on a weekly basis. Even during a light training session, it would be beneficial to perform each of these movements with a light load. This will help to improve overall technique and mobility across different areas of your body.
Secondly, you must note how many total reps you are doing for each movement. If you spend the majority of your time on the bench press but cannot perform more than 3 pull ups, then there’s an issue. It is important to keep your training numbers equal, so if you do 100 presses, do 100 squats. This will help to keep you injury and pain free.
Third, is there a level of balance between your basic movements? For instance, can you power clean, front squat and bench press roughly the same weight? This is just example that holds true for throwers, but remember a balanced level of strength tends to keep you healthier. Be realistic and analyse your performance to see where you need to improve.
Finally, keep a list of your exercise variations. If you do a dozen of different pushing movements but only one pull, then this may slowly become an problem. Often people only perform the exercises they like doing. Look over your training and see if this is the case. Squatting is hard for a reason.
So what movements can I do? The list of exercises for each movement can be comprehensive, but I like to use the following movements when training my athletes. Often, we vary between using barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells.
The movement approach can be seen as the first step towards correctives. Do all the basic movements then balance your total reps and total load as much as you can. Monitor your training and look out for any ‘movement gaps’.