Foundational Movement Patterns for Increased Strength and Injury Prevention

Do you want to build a strong, balanced body, reduce injury, and improve your ability to do things in real life (not just at the gym)?

To build a well-rounded strength program, include these six foundational movements:

Squat: The squat targets the lower body, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. It also engages the core muscles for stability. Examples include the bodyweight squat, dumbbell squat, goblet squat or single leg squat.

In real life: sitting down and standing up or picking something heavy off the floor by bending your knees.

Hip Hinge: The hip hinge targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Exercises like deadlifts, bridges and kettlebell swings all involve the hip hinge. Mastering the hip hinge improves strength, athletic performance and reduces the risk of lower back injuries.

In real life: Picking something up off the floor (without squatting).

Push: The pushing movement pattern targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Exercises like push-ups, bench presses, and shoulder presses, all fall under this category. Be careful with push exercises if you have a shoulder injury.

In real life: Putting away groceries into an overhead cupboard.

Pull: The pulling movement pattern targets back, biceps, and forearms. Pull-ups, rows, and lat pulldowns are all effective pull exercises. When performing pulling exercises, focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together. Do not rely on the arms.

In real life: Preventing our shoulders from collapsing forward (and other forms of poor posture).


Carry: The carry pattern improves stability, grip strength, and core activation. Exercises include the farmer carry and suitcase carry.

In real life: Carrying your suitcase! And all the groceries…

Rotation or Anti-Rotation: Rotation involves twisting or turning the torso around its axis. This movement is often overlooked. Examples of exercises are the Pallof press, cable rotations, and woodchops.

In real life: Stabilizing your body if you start to fall, preventing other injuries, playing golf, and emptying the dishwasher.

Incorporating foundational movement patterns into your strength routine is essential for building a strong body and reducing the risk of injury. Remember to listen to your body, focus on good technique, and stay consistent with your training to see progress over time.

If you’re looking for help to design a workout program to improve your function and strength, Ascend Fitness can help! Go to to learn more about our 6 Week Fit for Life Program or send us an email: [email protected].

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