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PRIMAL MOVEMENT: A guide to natural human movement patterns
October 29, 2014

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While we are on the topic of primal fitness lets take a quick look at primal patterns of movement. Quite often exercises are created that do nothing to develop ...natural human movements. Crossfit, as an example, has a lot of potential. But there are some issues, as there are with many other forms of training. Doing dozens of reps of an explosive, posterior chain dominant exercise like deadlifts and olympic lifts is not natural and does nothing to develop any form of useful physical ability. On the other hand, heavy lifts of the same nature do exactly the things they are designed to do. The same applies to things like the cross trainer machine at the gym as another example. It is far removed from any kind of useful movement humans are designed to perform. Whereas a sprint, whether on land or in the water swimming, is very much in line with the development of primal movement. The purpose here is to introduce you to primal movements and provide some examples for putting them to use in training.

Lifting from the floor - This is most commonly expressed in the deadlift. But applies also to lifting atlas stones, lifting a heavy box, olympic lifts etc. Incorporate this movement by doing heavy deadlifts in the low rep range.

Squatting - This one is obvious and is expressed in many ways. It's natural and essential to be able to squat. By squat I am referring to a deep squat,.heels on the ground, spine in neutral position, driving from the hips. Everyone needs to be able to squat, even if it's just with their own body weight. Include various squatting movements into your training. Use back squats, dumbell squats, front squats, squat jumps etc. Practice doing it dynamically, as in one rep after the next, as well as statically by sitting in a deep squat position for a length of time, from a few seconds to a few minutes. Get familiar with squatting and do it regularly.

Swimming - If you are an adult and you can't swim, at least at a basic level, what the hell is wrong with you? Swimming is a life skill that everyone should have. It doesn't have to be a weekly part of your training, but incorporate swim sessions when and where you can.

Sprinting - By sprinting I mean running at absolute maximum speed over a short distance. If you don't have an injury that prevents it you should be doing at least a few short, max pace sprints throughout the week, even if it's just 5 or 6 sprints of 25m.

Climbing - By climbing I'm referring to the basic ability to pull your body upwards on a structure above head height. In some cases this means rock climbing, scaling a fence, climbing a tree etc. Or it can be as simple as a pulling action such as the pull up exercise. Climbing is a natural ability for many animals, especially primates, which is what you are. To develop this pattern of movement you can engage in climbing activities if you are so inclined. Or you can just incorporate pull ups and muscle ups into your programme. In this case lat pull downs don't count.

Jumping - Jumping is am explosive, very athletic activity. The ability to jump is a central theme in human movement. Practice jumping in various ways. This could mean simple squat jumps, standing broad jump, playing basketball, leading hurdles etc.

Throwing - How did humans once catch their food? By throwing spears. It has also been a part of warfare for thousands of years. It's no mistake that humans discovered how to throw things, it's a natural action for our anatomy. We have hands and arms that were designed to grip things and either lift, climb or throw. Throwing is a skill that requires arm and shoulder power combined with core strength, balance and coordination. Take some time to practice throwing a football, a tennis ball, a javelin, a stone or anything that takes your fancy.

Getting upright - This is a rather vague pattern of movement and can mean many things. But looking at it simply, it can be interpreted as getting to your feet from either a lying or seated position. In training you can develop this ability in many creative ways. Practice some of your sprints from a prone starting position, practice burpees, roll onto your back and back to your feet and stand up etc.

Walking - This is the last and possibly simplest and most natural primal human movement patteen. But is it really that simple? Yes and no. We learn to walk from a very young age. Seems easy enough. But you would be surprised with just how poorly and inefficiently people walk. We live in a sedentary world. People drive cars, we spend a large part of our day sitting on our arse. We lose the ability to walk with correct posture and gait. I want you to do two things. Walk further throughout your day and be mindful of how you are walking. Pick out patterns in your walking stride and your posture that could be improved.

So there we have a list of natural, primal patterns of movement that the humans were designed to be able to do. Practice these and master them. Incorporate them into your training and your day to day activities. It looks like a big list and a tire consuming one. But break it down and it's really not. You can incorporate all of these things quite easily even if you are a busy person. Prioritise and learn to move well.

Unleash Your Physical Potential,

Chris Lyons Click here to send us an email.

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