ATTENTION: This is not some blog outlining the exercises that are going to help you deadlift deadlift 500 lbs, lose 20 lbs, or get that beloved six pack (though they may help you achieve these goals). Additionally, this is not another blog outlining some complex maneauver like standing on your head on a swiss ball (please don’t get any ideas) that promises to change your life. Rather, this blog is a simple breakdown of 7 functional movements your workouts should aim to incorporate.
At Made 2 Move, we are all about preparing you for YOUR LIFE. What do you need to function pain-free and efficiently? We have found that these 7 movements tend to boost performance in sports and help our patients move more optimally throghout their day. You will likely see our Made 2 Move therapists incorporate these movements into your sessions and programs!
The Big 7
A 2022 blog on functional fitness said it perfectly, “Functional fitness isn’t actually a specific type of workout, but movement patterns that can be incorporated into a variety of workout styles” (Wildenradt 2022).
Whether you’re a runner, Crossfitter, or every day gym-goer these 7 movements components should be incorporated into your workouts to optimize the movement you do throughout your day to day life.
Some people tend to divide up their workouts throughout the week based upon these movements: you’ve likely heard of people who have something along the lines of “squat, push, and pull days” as part of their training regimen. But these movements can also just be sprinkled into your warmup, main lifts, or as a 5 minute movement break from work!
There are plenty of ways to build these movement patterns into your workout and the good news: YOU’RE LIKELY ALREADY DOING THEM. You see people do these movements every day in the gym. But why? Which patterns would benefit you most? Our Made 2 Move team breaks it down below.
A 2014 research article opened with, “the squat movement pattern is arguably one of the most primal and critical fundamental movements necessary to improve sport performance, to reduce injury risk and to support lifelong physical activity” (Myer et. al 2014). That was almost 10 years ago and while most information in the literature gets revised and updated every week, this fact has not changed: Squats are essential for overall functionality and vitality!
We’re talking about a hip hinge here- thinking about sending your butt back behind you. Some great hinging exercises are the deadlift, RDL, and good morning. Kettlebell swings are another great movement (when performed properly) to hinge in an explosive way.
Pushing movements are great because they can be performed well with just your body weight- think push- ups (or handstand push ups for all my Crossfitters and gymnasts out there) or with a barbell- think bench press. Another simple and common pushing movement is the overhead press.
Like the push, the pull can be performed in different planes of motion and angles of incline. The sled pull, rows, and pull- ups are a few fan favorites! An important note is that pushing and pulling tend to complement eachothter and are often coupled in the same workout.
Your kids, groceries, luggage, etc. This one speaks for itself- we all carry things throughout our day!
There are many activities we do throughout the day that require single leg strength, mobility, and stability- walking and stairs being two of them. Single leg training is also a movement pattern our Made 2 Move therapists emphasize with our return to sport athletes before getting them back on the field. We aim to have our injured limb at least 85% as strong, stable, and coordinated as the non-injured.
All my golfers out there have this one in the bag, but there are also many subtle parts of our lives that require rotation through the core. Think about reaching behind you in the car or moving your kid from their high chair to the floor (the latter requires a pull, hinge, AND rotation!) Training this in the gym in a targeted and focused manner will make the rotation required for life seem like a breeze.
There is a variety of equipment that can used for these exercises so that you never get bored or plateau- dumbbells, barbells, cable machines, bars/rings, TRX, and even your own bodyweight! There are also a million ways to progress these movements to make them more challenging or regress these movements to scale it back.
Another benefit of these movements is that they tend to incorporate many different muscle groups so they are efficient for people who need to get in and out of the gym or for those whom lifting is just a complement to their primary goal (ie runners, swimmers, team sport athletes).
Are you interested in incorporating “the big 7” into your workout routine in a way that optimizes YOUR own personal daily movement? Come work with us at Made 2 Move! We are physical therapists, but all of our clinicians are also coaches with an extensive background in movement science. Looking for a coach to write a program for you? Our staff is full of experts who will build you a personalized program based off of YOUR interests, injuries, and goals. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with one of our therapists today!