Primal humans were some of the most athletic moving and looking species alive. If you were alive over 5,000 years ago, chances are you would not have been overweight, nor would you have had poor hip and shoulder mobility with some form of overuse injury. Then again, there weren’t cellphones, computers, cars, or drive thrus back then either. Primal humans were lean, strong, fit, and moved with athletic prowess. They walked more than 5 miles each day, sometimes sprinting and chasing food. They gathered wood, water, and other materials for shelter and survival. Their job was to “Survive.”
Well, a lot has changed since then to turn us into the modern man/woman. Because of modern day comforts, we’ve lost leanness, athleticism, and have developed the chronic issues and diseases we see today. So, how do we mimic the Primal Human? We go to the gym. Exercise is the best way to get back to what humans are built to do. The only problem is the gym has undergone modernization, too. We should be going to the gym to move and feel better. Looking good should just be a byproduct of proper physical training.
Unfortunately, most workouts consist of walking on a motorized treadmill, sitting on a comfortable machine, or performing an exercise that isolates a particular muscle (and a single joint movement) like a bicep curl. Think about your ancestors when you are training. They weren’t curling and taking pictures to put on Instagram. When they were chasing and spearing their food, they were using the human body as one unit.
Think about it: the gym, and exercising, is a relatively new concept in history and was originally designed to supplement modernizations. We should be using the gym to train specifically to move athletically, feel athletic; therefore, look athletic. Stop using the gym to socialize and brag on social media. Instead, use it to better your life. Primal humans had six packs because they ate a lean diet and moved and used their entire bodies every day, not because of an ab machine or supplement. This fitness stuff does not have to be as complicated as most people make it out to be. It can really be as simple as following what I am about to tell you.
Hence, when you are training, you want to focus on Seven Human Functional Movements. These movements are based on Dan John’s methodologies: he believes a training program should consist of six basic human movements in order for it to transfer over to sport and life. We like to add a seventh movement we feel is important to our athletes and general clients.
Remember, you are training to increase your movement longevity. You want to be able to play with your children and the Smith Machine isn’t going to help you do that. Follow these seven movement patterns, and you will be moving and looking lean and athletic. (Of course, nutrition always plays a major role in how you look.)
The seven movements that should be in everyone’s training program:
- 7)Everything else
As I stated earlier, this list is influenced by Dan John. We added rotation because we feel it is an important movement pattern and most people do not get out of the sagittal plane and kind of keep a head down move forward approach. All of this occurs while avoiding any type of rotational movement and is why people get hurt reaching in the backseat of their car for something. The body is made to move like this for a reason.
Now let’s provide you with some examples of each of the movements:
- 1)Squat: this movement trains your legs and glutes and is comparable to sitting down and standing up (hopefully, you don’t sit too long). Use a body squat, goblet squat, or any other type of squat variation and you’ll get more bang for your buck than using the leg press machine at your local gym.
- 2)Hinge: We are mainly talking about a hip hinge and this movement is used when we are picking things up off the floor. This can be trained through exercises such as deadlifts, RDL’s, and Kettlebell Swings.
- 3)Push: This is probably the most overused movement in everyone’s program. Everybody wants to bench press and do it excessively. Pushing is an important movement, but it is not the most important. Make sure you are balancing your pushing movements. This can be trained by exercises like bench press, push-up variations, and overhead press variations.
- 4)Pulling: This may be the most overlooked movement in someone’s training, but is a very important movement for the upper body. Pulling can be trained by using exercises like row variations, pull-ups, and chin-ups.
- 5)Carries: This movement is new to the training tool box, but again, when we talk about 5,000 years ago, carrying was just a part of everyday chores. They had to carry fire wood or a dead animal. You get the picture, but when it comes to training, no one thinks about this. You’ll thank me the next time you greatly reduce your trips when you carry your grocery bags into the house because you much more efficient at it! Carries can be trained by doing Farmer’s Walk Variations.
- 6)Rotation: We feel this is one of the most important fundamental movements and is a great way to stabilize the spine. The best way to train rotation is through the use of anti-rotation (not allowing tension to rotate you). Rotation can be trained through Palloff Presses and medicine ball variations.
- 7)Everything Else: I know, everything is somewhat broad, but we do keep it to a minimum. When we say “Everything Else” we mean exercises like lunges or other single leg variations, Turkish Get-ups, and all kinds of other core exercises.
These are the seven movements you should be focusing on in your training. Stop using the fad exercises or workouts you see other people doing. When you start doing these movements, you will not only feel and look better, but you’ll get rid of those nagging pains that every day modernization has brought on us. I’m not saying we need to be hunters and gathers again, but I am saying we need to move like they did because they certainly didn’t need chiropractors and physical therapists.