You may already know that my entire Paleo journey started when I joined my local Crossfit in 2008. Proper movement was at the heart of the gym I started at. It made such a huge difference in my health. I find that I often get off track with my workout routine around the holidays with all the travel and holiday parties. I often struggle to get back to it. This year, I decided that I am not going to let that happened. I searched around to find a quick and effective workout I could do at home or on the road.
I decided Kettlebell Movement is the best fit for me. It emphasizes the 7 essential Primal movements that will support us in our everyday life, plus any other sport or activity we take part in. Added bonus, it only requires 20 minutes a day!
The program is $10 off from now until, November 30th! Check it out HERE.
Workout Smart and See Results Using The Seven Primal Movements
For a lot of people it can be difficult to see consistent results from exercise for a variety of reasons. Many people don’t have a lot of knowledge as to what exercises are the most appropriate for them or how to progress the exercises they have been doing to see continual growth. For others, time is often an issue as well as motivation, especially when what you are doing isn’t giving you the results you had hoped for.
Many of us just choose to go for a run due to not knowing a better way to achieving health. I am not against running, in fact, it is a primal movement that I think everyone should be able to enjoy if they so desire.
The problem with running is that so few people have the necessary joint health, structural stability and posture to benefit from it. While there may be some benefit, it is mitigated by the pounding on the joints and the poor posture caused by tightening of the hips that running can cause. For most of us, the benefits simply do not outweigh the cost. If you are an avid runner with excellent stability, posture and gait, you will probably notice that in order to see good results, you need to run further and for longer durations as you become more and more adapted at your sport. The truth is, the human body becomes adapted to gait very quickly, it is a movement you have lots of practice at.
There are seven primal movements that we as humans will need in daily life in order to navigate through a world of chaos. Squatting, bending, lunging, twisting, pulling and pushing are equally important as gait in your daily life and many of us don’t use them effectively in our training.
In this article, I will take you through the basics of each movement and also help you see how to progress these movements so that you can always see results for the time you invest in training.
Squatting is a hips down movement, keeping your back straight and feet flat on the floor. It can be done with bodyweight or with weight held in front, on your back, to one side or even overhead. Squatting is important in everyday life as it allows you to lift anything held at shoulder level or higher with your legs. There is very little forward lean in a squat, which is one of the trademarks of the movement, as opposed to a bend which has a significant amount of forward lean. The lack of forward lean helps keep the weight feeling light as you move up and down. Squatting can also assist certain upper body pushing motions, allowing you to lift a great deal of weight overhead with proportionately little effort.
Bending is a hips back movement that, like the squat, requires you to keep your back straight and feet flat in order to be safe. This is the move to use to lift anything heavy off the ground, as it utilizes the biggest lifting muscles of your body, the glutes and hamstrings. Lifting heavy weights to your potential requires you to be as efficient as possible and the bend is the most efficient way of picking something up off the ground. It can also assist upper body pulling motions if you perform it properly.
Lunging is an exaggerated gait, it is the basis for throwing and can give you a wider base to allow you to be more stable. Not only is lunging very functional in the real world, but it can also help you to develop excellent hip flexibility. Hip flexibility is the key to good posture and a strong back, many people think they have a bad back when in reality they just have tight hips! Lunging complements thoracic twisting very well, as you will see if you ever throw a ball, javelin or shot. In fact, throwing is a combination of lunging, twisting and pushing.
Rotation at the thoracic spine is a part of almost every move you will ever make, and while it isn’t used as a stand alone movement very often, it is a catalyst for almost everything else. Your t-spine mobility is a part of every step that you take and arguably of every other movement you will ever do. Many people struggle with flexibility in this area and due to us being dominant on one side or the other, we often see a huge difference in one’s ability to twist one direction over another. If you have played any racquet sports, you can probably relate to this. A baseball player might spend his entire career twisting with great power in only one direction. Even sweeping the floor in a different direction can feel awkward for many people.
Pushing is an upper body movement that uses the chest, shoulders and triceps for strength and the big lat muscles of the back for stability. In the gym, the bench press has been the most common pushing exercise for decades. Unfortunately this lift does nothing to develop the core muscles that are an essential part of any real world pushing movements. If you were ever pushing an object that came to an abrupt stop, you will need the core strength to prevent injury especially if your pushing muscles are well developed.
Pulling uses the big muscles of the upper back in different ways depending on the direction you are pulling from. It can also work your shoulders, biceps and grip muscles. Bent rows, cable rows and pull ups are all excellent examples of pulling exercises and can be done in many different ways.
Gait is simply walking, jogging or sprinting, for best results, use bending, squatting and lunging to ensure excellent hip flexibility so you know your gait exercises will always be a positive stress. Because long durations of jogging or high frequency sprinting can make your hips tight, it is very important to balance it with other strength training.
Once you have developed the ability to perform these movements properly, it is time to progress. This will ensure that you will always see improvement from your training. In the real world your movements are almost infinite, use this in your training to make sure you never plateau.
Using combinations of the seven primal movements will allow you to progress and continue to improve and grow. As I mentioned, squatting works well with overhead pushing, bending works well with pulling and lunging assists twisting and pushing. Using combinations such as this not only challenges the muscles in different ways but also improves coordination and is very functional in the real world.
Stability, Strength and Power
Your muscles are able to provide stability to a joint, as well as move things in strength and power phases. Strength phase exercises will allow you to move weight (body weight included) in the same range of motion as the joint is moving. Power phase exercises are a progression that puts momentum behind a weight, causing it to continue moving even after your exertion has stopped. Think throwing, running or jumping, the kettlebell swing, clean and snatch are all examples of power phase weight lifting exercises that will give you superhuman results, so long as you have progressed appropriately.
Balance and stability
Another way to progress your training to see endless results is by adding in balance or stability. Balance can be done by standing on one leg, or even by using a very linear stance while performing an exercise. Stability comes into play when lifting free weight or using your bodyweight in ways where the resistance is trying to move off of it’s intended path. One of my favorite ways to train stability is by lifting a barbell with one hand, gripping the center and keeping the weight even as I push it overhead or move under it, as in the Turkish getup, windmill or overhead squat. I will use a much lighter weight than I would if I were using a dumbbell or kettlebell but the perceived exertion is the same because the stabilizers go into overdrive.
Between weight lifting and body weighted exercise, there are endless ways to train and there is always something to improve at. One of my favorite things to do is to choose a few exercises that I can’t do very well and practice them until I cannot get them wrong. I recently mastered an exercise called the bent press which is highly technical and requires massive amounts of flexibility, stability and strength.
Now, I am working on calisthenic exercises that, being 6’4″, can be quite challenging, like the pistol squat and the one arm chin up. When I nail those, I will move on to some other cruel and unusual exercises that will leave me stronger, more flexible and also give me the confidence to know that I can step out of my comfort zone and still persevere and prevail.
I have created a 30 day program that aims to provide you with step by step progressions through some of the most rewarding exercises I have ever seen. Starting with strength and stability phase exercises, many of them body weight and progressing into combinations, power phase and also balance, stability and everything in between. The primary tool I use in this program is a kettlebell as it is one of the most rewarding and versatile fitness tools to use in terms of getting results quickly.
My goal is to provide people with the knowledge, inspiration and motivation to see amazing results for every bit of effort they put forth. I hope to provide you with a path to amazing health and beyond, while keeping it fun, varied and sustainable for an entire lifetime. Check out my program here and walk with us in the journey of continued health and vitality.
Check out the Kettlebell Movement 30 Day Program HERE!
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Chrissa - Physcial Kitchness says
Hmmm gait. Never heard of that. This is such a great post. There is never enough time in the day!!
I absolutely love this post thank you for sharing! I think that people find it so tough in this modern way of living to be able to detach, stop, and just get physical! I always try and fit in some sort of primal movements in my day! Chasing my toddler like a bear is a good one 😉