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The Key Functional Movement Exercises

Posted by John Cawley on

The Key Functional Movement Exercises

Humans are designed to move in a certain way and throughout our evolution there have been key movements we have had to master. Some people refer to these as the primal movements or foundation movements but essentially they are.


  • Bend to extend: Bending with a hips back movement, back straight, feet flat and forward.
  • Squat: This is a hips down motion
  • Lunge: This is a long, linear stride, lowering your back knee to just above the ground, with a completely upright torso
  • Rotate: Rotation from the hips and / or also the thoracic spine and upper back arms, but you can also rotate the legs from the hip down when lying down flat
  • Push: Anything that involves a pushing movement with arms, including pushing a trolley or a push up etc
  • Pull: A pulling movement with arms like pulling a rope or doing cable row exercise in the gym
  • Gait: Walking or running movements


We do all of these movements in daily life and the best form of exercise for us to do on a regular basis is functional training that include variations of all of the above movements. Pilates also includes all of the above movements and is an excellent way to learn how to engage the deep stabilisation muscles requires to perform all above the above movements more effectively.


Our bodies are a complex web of interconnected muscles, joints, fascia, ligaments, tendons, bones, and other tissues and organs that work synchronously and seamlessly. So, if the body is this interconnected web that’s working as one unit there is no real benefit to doing exercises that focus on one muscle group. All exercise routines should focus on movement patterns, not muscle groups, when exercising to develop a functionally strong body. At its core, exercise is all about movement.

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