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The Fundamental Movements

“Fundamental human movements are… fundamental.” Dan John

A couple of things may come to mind when you hear this.

What does that mean?

Yes, of course they are.

What are the fundamental movements?

Perhaps something close to these questions.

Let’s start off by answering what the fundamental human movements are.

Pretty much everyone agrees that we have 4 main fundamental categories.

Hip hinge


Upper body pull

Upper body push

At this point you find that it depends on the person's own training philosophy. You will find things like.


Single stance



Something that we know for certain is that whatever your training philosophy is, if you stick with the fundamental movements, you will see some amazing results.

What we are going to look at is the 4 main fundamental movements.

Hip hinge:

This movement is more commonly mistaken for the deadlift. In reality a deadlift is a movement within the hip hinge family.

Hip hinges are a hip dominant exercise, meaning the hip muscles are the prime movers. This is the lower body pull movement.

A hip hinge is a movement where we bend forward at the hips where your leg and the hips meet. Imagine if your body looked like a hinge on a door. This is possibly the most important movement to master. This is said because we probably need to be doing more of it.

This is the basic movement of picking things up off the floor.

The muscles worked on this movement are the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

Exercises that are in this category include, roman deadlifts, deadlifts, good mornings, and glute bridges.


Squats are a knee dominant exercise, the muscles that are around the knees are the prime movers. This is the lower body push movement.

A squat is when you slightly push your hips back and bend at the knees to take a seated stance. Think sitting in a chair with no chair under you.

Squats are most commonly seen when we sit down and stand up from a chair.

The muscles worked during this movement are glutes and quadriceps.

Exercises that are squats include, squat, front squat, goblet squat, split squat, and lunge.

Upper body pull:

This is the other movement we need to work a little bit more. These are the exercises that help up with our posture.

Upper body pulling is when we are pulling a load toward our upper bodies. This can be done over head or straight out.

Muscles worked during these movements are, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rotator cuff, and biceps.

Exercises that are upper body pulling include, rows, pull ups, pulldowns, and bicep curls.

Upper body push:

Upper body pushing may be the most overused movement category. This is because these are the muscles that we are able to see when we look in the mirror.

Upper body pushing is when we are pushing a load away from our upper body. This can be done over head or straight out.

Muscles worked during these movements are, shoulders, chest, and triceps.

Exercises that are upper body pushing include, push up, bench press, shoulder press, and tricep extensions.

Even though not everyone agrees what all the fundamental movements are. We can all agree there are certain movement categories everyone needs to work. Each category is different and has their place in making you a stronger human being

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