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The Seven Fundamental Human Movements


Welcome to our deep dive into the Seven Fundamental Human Movements. As we have always emphasized at Strength Matters, these movements are the building blocks of our physicality, the foundation of every action we take, and the underpinning of all athletic pursuits.

Our seven categories – Locomotion, Hinge, Squat, Push, Pull, Rotate, and Anti-Rotate – cover the comprehensive spectrum of human movement. They encapsulate the ways our bodies interact with the world, enabling us to perform everyday activities, and allowing us to excel in physical challenges.


These fundamental movements are not just a theory or model – they form the backbone of our program design, acting as the structural pillars upon which all training is built.

They are woven seamlessly into our Strength Matters Performance Pyramid, which you can explore in depth here.

In our approach, we view these movements as interconnected networks rather than individual components. Together, they provide a holistic approach to training that not only enhances athletic performance but also promotes resilience, longevity, and overall well-being.

Understanding these movements, their importance, and how they intertwine with the human body’s capabilities can elevate your fitness training expertise.

It allows you to move beyond simplistic workout designs and delve into the profound and intricate world of movement science.

Our goal in this guide is to offer you a comprehensive understanding of these seven fundamental human movements, detailing what they are, why they are important, and how to effectively incorporate them into your programming.

These movements set the stage for developing robust, balanced, and high-performing athletes.

Stay with us, and let’s unravel the complex, yet elegant tapestry of human movement.

Seven Fundamental Human Movements

The Importance of Mastering the Seven Fundamental Movements

Every effective training program is built upon a deep understanding of human biomechanics and movement patterns. These seven fundamental movements, when mastered, can open the door to enhanced performance, injury prevention, and efficient progress in any fitness program.

Locomotion, Hinge, Squat, Push, Pull, Rotate, and Anti-Rotate represent more than just exercise categories; they reflect our inherent human functionality. These movements are hardwired into our DNA and are critical for daily life activities, sports, and recreational activities.

Locomotion is the basis of all movement. Whether it’s walking, running, climbing stairs, or carrying groceries, we’re using locomotion. Neglecting this fundamental aspect can limit our functional capability and mobility as we age.

Hinge exercises target the body’s powerhouse – the posterior chain, which includes the glutes and hamstrings. Strengthening these muscles can lead to improved posture, injury prevention, and increased power and strength. It’s not just about heavy deadlifts; everyday tasks like picking up items from the floor involve hinging.

The Squat, or the original human sitting position, is critical for lower body strength and flexibility. Squatting exercises enhance core stability, knee stability, and ankle mobility. Whether you’re lifting a heavy object or sitting down in a chair, you’re performing a squat.

Push and Pull movements are vital for upper body strength and stability. They translate into real-world scenarios such as opening doors, carrying items, or lifting things overhead. Balancing these two movement patterns is key to preventing muscular imbalances and subsequent injuries.

Finally, the twin principles of Rotate and Anti-Rotate govern our body’s ability to produce and resist rotational forces. These movements are crucial in most sports and help maintain a strong, stable core, which is vital for overall body strength and injury prevention.

Mastering these seven fundamental movements will equip fitness professionals with a robust toolbox for designing effective and personalized training programs.

It enables them to meet their clients’ specific needs while emphasizing functional fitness and long-term health and performance. This mastery can be achieved through consistent practice, mindful execution, and ensuring proper form and technique.

Remember, these movements form the pillars of our program design at Strength Matters, reflecting our commitment to a well-rounded, functional, and holistic approach to fitness.

We place these movements within our Performance Pyramid, the blueprint for achieving peak physical performance for the everyday athlete. You can learn more about our unique approach here.

The Role of the Lunge and a Word on Bodybuilding

The Lunge – a common exercise and movement pattern often isolated in training and exercise categorization. However, at Strength Matters, we view the lunge not as a separate category but as a blend of two of our fundamental movement patterns.

The lunge is a complex movement that represents a dynamic interplay between Locomotion and either the Hinge or Squat.

Think of a lunge in terms of locomotion – there’s an evident similarity with walking, as the oblique slings work contralaterally to move the body.

The lunge becomes either a Locomotion-Hinge or a Locomotion-Squat based on factors like torso position and knee flexion.

When the torso leans forward, the lunge resembles a hinge. You might observe this movement when someone bends to pick something off the ground, and the anterior knee flexes up to 45 degrees. It’s a hip-dominant movement, hence the designation of a locomotion-hinge.

However, if the torso remains upright, as when stepping up or down or carrying a load, the lunge mirrors a squat. Here, the knee bends closer to 90 degrees, creating a combined effort of the hip and knee, leading to a locomotion-squat.

Turning to bodybuilding, it’s common to break upper body movements into vertical and horizontal pushing and pulling.

Often overlooked are locomotion and anti-rotation, primarily because these aren’t essential for muscle growth.

However, it’s essential to remember that muscle mass isn’t the only indicator of fitness or athletic performance.

Including speed and power training with locomotion activities, such as sprints, can significantly enhance fast-twitch fiber development, positively influencing body composition and hypertrophy goals.

Consider the physiques of 100m sprinters – a testament to the blend of power, speed, and muscle.

At Strength Matters, we recognize the merits of bodybuilding, but our emphasis on the seven fundamental movements offers a more holistic, functional approach that enables fitness professionals to craft programs that enhance overall fitness, health, and performance.

Applying the Seven Fundamental Movements in Program Design

As fitness professionals, the practical application of the seven fundamental movements is integral to our client’s success, allowing for the creation of comprehensive training programs that enhance overall strength, mobility, and functionality.

Let’s dive into how we can weave these essential movements into our training programs.

1. Locomotion: As the most foundational of all movements, locomotion activities should be incorporated into warm-up and cool-down routines. For instance, simple exercises such as walking lunges or animal crawls, as well as more dynamic ones like high knees or butt kicks, can stimulate the neuromuscular system, enhancing coordination and mobility.

2. Hinge: Training hinge movements is paramount for back health and the development of powerful hip extensors. Exercises like kettlebell swings, deadlifts, and glute bridges can be progressively loaded to strengthen the posterior chain and reduce the risk of back injuries.

3. Squat: The squat is a compound movement that targets multiple muscle groups and is essential for everyday activities. Whether it’s a bodyweight squat, goblet squat, or back squat, ensure your clients maintain good form to effectively engage the glutes, quads, and core.

4. Push: Push movements, either vertical or horizontal, are key for upper body strength. Implement exercises such as push-ups, dips, and various types of presses (bench, overhead) to enhance pectoral, deltoid, and triceps strength.

5. Pull: Balance out your push exercises with an equal amount of pull exercises. Incorporate movements like pull-ups, bent-over rows, and cable pulls to strengthen the back, biceps, and rear deltoids.

6. Rotate: Rotational movements are often overlooked in conventional training but are essential for overall functionality. Exercises like medicine ball rotational throws or chop and lifts can help improve rotational strength and power.

7. Anti-rotate: The ability to resist rotation is crucial for core stability. Include exercises like planks, bird-dogs, and Pallof presses to bolster core strength and improve postural stability.

Remember, the goal is not merely to grow large muscles but to develop a body that is functional, balanced, and resilient.

By consistently integrating these seven fundamental movements into your client’s training program, you’ll ensure they develop comprehensive physical capability, enhancing their performance both in and out of the gym.

The Turkish Get-Up: The Crown Jewel of Fundamental Movements

Considered by many as the gold standard of functional movements, the Turkish Get-Up is an exercise that elegantly combines all seven fundamental human movements into one dynamic sequence.

Seven Fundamental Human Movements: Turkish Get Up

Beyond merely being a showcase of strength and flexibility, the Turkish Get-Up is a testament to the body’s capacity for integrated, holistic movement. This is precisely what makes it an indispensable tool in the repertoire of any fitness professional.

Locomotion: The exercise begins with the individual lying flat on their back and then moving to a standing position, incorporating the foundational principle of locomotion in its purest form.

Hinge: As the individual transitions from lying to standing, they are required to perform a hip-dominant movement similar to a hinge. This is seen when transitioning from the floor to the seated and half-kneeling positions.

Squat: As the practitioner stands up fully from the half-kneeling position, they essentially perform a lunge, which we categorize under the locomotion-squat blend.

Push: The overhead press to initiate the movement and the continuous stabilization of the weight overhead throughout the exercise engage the push element.

Pull: As the individual pulls their body up off the floor and into the first seated position, the fundamental movement pattern of pulling is incorporated.

Rotation: As the torso twists and the legs sweep during the transition from seated to half-kneeling position, rotational forces are at play.

Anti-Rotation: The continuous need to stabilize the body and resist rotational forces, especially while holding the weight overhead, brings the anti-rotation element into action.

The Turkish Get-Up, therefore, is more than just an exercise. It’s a lesson in the interconnectedness of human movement and a testament to the comprehensiveness of these seven fundamental patterns.

Understanding and effectively implementing this exercise can help fitness professionals train their clients in a way that improves general physical preparedness, enhances movement quality, and reduces injury risk.

This complexity and integration underline the importance of mastering individual movements first, as we’ve discussed throughout this guide, to ensure safe and effective performance of compound exercises like the Turkish Get-Up.

Remember, each client is unique, and their program should reflect that. The seven fundamental movements give us a framework to create diverse, balanced, and individualized training plans that cater to any client’s needs and goals.

Incorporating the Seven Fundamental Movements into Program Design

Applying the principles of the seven fundamental human movements to your program design process is critical in crafting balanced, comprehensive workouts that truly address the functional needs of your clients.

Here’s how you can practically incorporate these movements into your programming:

1. Diversify Movements: Simple variety is key in any training program, and that applies to movement patterns as well. Aim to include each of the seven movements – locomotion, hinge, squat, push, pull, rotation, and anti-rotation – in your programming over the course of a training week. For beginners, they should be in every session.

By doing this, you’ll ensure that your clients are developing comprehensive physical capabilities, reducing injury risks, and enhancing performance.

2. Prioritize Individual Needs: While it’s important to train all movement patterns, the emphasis you put on each should align with the specific needs, goals, and abilities of your client. For example, a client with mobility issues may benefit from more hinge exercises, while an athlete requiring enhanced speed and agility may need to focus more on locomotion.

3. Use Progressions and Regressions: The seven fundamental movements provide a spectrum of exercise variations, ranging from simple to complex. For beginners, you can start with basic versions of each movement (like bodyweight squats) and gradually progress to more advanced exercises (like barbell squats) as their skills and strength improve.

4. Incorporate Functional Exercises: Many functional exercises naturally encompass multiple fundamental movements. Take advantage of this by integrating such exercises into your programming. For example, the Turkish Get-Up, as discussed earlier, is an excellent exercise that incorporates all seven movements.

5. Balance Intensity and Volume: While incorporating these movements, balance is key. A training program should not overly emphasize one movement pattern at the expense of others. Ensure there’s a good mix of high intensity and volume for each movement pattern, to promote balanced muscle development and avoid overtraining.

Remember, the goal here is to create training programs that enhance your clients’ performance and well-being in a holistic manner. The seven fundamental human movements offer a strategic approach to achieving this, providing a foundation for functional, adaptable, and effective physical training.

Assessing and Improving Movement Quality

Understanding, assessing, and efficiently employing the seven fundamental human movements is an integral part of a personalized, effective, and safe fitness program.

At Strength Matters, we have uniquely integrated these human movements into our robust Strength Matters Assessment System.

This system is designed to empower clients, foster their autonomy, and facilitate self-awareness, all of which contribute to a successful and satisfying fitness journey.


At the heart of our system lies the self-assessment feature, an invaluable tool for both online and in-person work. Self-assessment promotes a nuanced understanding of one’s own body, guiding clients to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and areas requiring improvement.

As fitness professionals, we provide the necessary guidelines and instructions. Still, the actual evaluation comes from the clients themselves.

This approach not only heightens body awareness but also builds motivation by making clients active participants in their fitness journey.

Structured Movement Assessments:

In addition to self-assessment, you can also use structured movement assessments such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). These assessments provide a clear understanding of a client’s proficiency in each of the fundamental movements, highlighting any potential asymmetries or injury risk factors.

Corrective Exercises and Retraining Movement Patterns:

After gathering this data, the next step is to implement corrective exercises and retrain movement patterns as needed. If a client shows difficulty in performing a certain movement, we create a tailored plan to address this issue, focusing on enhancing mobility, stability, or strength as necessary.

Corrective exercises aim to improve the execution of the movements, reducing the risk of injury, and enhancing overall performance.

Applying the Assessment Results:

All of this information collected from the assessments forms the backbone of our personalized training programs. Understanding a client’s strengths and weaknesses allows us to create a targeted plan that not only makes the training more efficient but also reduces the risk of injury.

At Strength Matters, we firmly believe that a comprehensive understanding of movement is key to overall fitness. Fitness is not just about lifting heavy weights or achieving a fast mile—it’s about performing these seven fundamental human movements effectively, safely, and efficiently.

Our Assessment System aligns perfectly with this philosophy, providing a detailed evaluation of a client’s abilities and forming the groundwork for a truly personalized fitness program.

Incorporating the Seven Fundamental Human Movements into Your Training Program

While the seven fundamental movements form the core of any comprehensive fitness program at Strength Matters, knowing how to effectively incorporate them into a training program is key. This not only includes choosing the right exercises but also ensuring that they are performed with proper form and at the right intensity.

1. Locomotion: Locomotion exercises should ideally mimic daily activities like walking, running, or carrying something heavy. Incorporate exercises like farmer’s walks, stair climbs, or hill sprints into your clients’ training programs. The key is to progressively increase the difficulty and complexity of the locomotion exercises as their fitness levels improve.

2. Hinge: The hinge movement is essential for developing the posterior chain. Deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and glute bridges are great exercises that engage these muscles. Start with basic movements and slowly progress to more advanced variations as your clients develop strength and proper form.

3. Squat: Squats are a fundamental movement for lower body strength and mobility. Begin with bodyweight squats, then gradually progress to goblet squats, front squats, and eventually back squats, ensuring that your client maintains good form throughout.

4. Push: Incorporate a variety of pushing movements like push-ups, bench presses, and overhead presses. These exercises help build upper body strength and can be adapted for all fitness levels.

5. Pull: Pulling movements work the muscles opposite those used in pushing exercises. Include exercises like pull-ups, bent-over rows, and lat pulldowns in your client’s program. Remember, pull exercises are just as important as push exercises to maintain balance in the body.

6. Rotate and Anti-Rotate: Rotation movements should be included to enhance the functional fitness of your clients. Single arm loaded carries, medicine ball throws, and cable woodchops are excellent for training rotation.

On the other hand, exercises like the Pallof press and bird dogs can be used for training anti-rotation, and improving core stability.

The key to incorporating these seven fundamental movements is to ensure a balanced approach, giving each movement pattern equal attention throughout the training week.

Always prioritize the quality of movement over the quantity, as proper form is paramount to prevent injury and maximize benefits.

Remember, progress is not always linear. A client’s advancement in one movement pattern may not reflect the same progress in another.

It’s crucial to tailor each program to the individual’s needs and abilities, adjusting as necessary for progressions or regressions.

With patience, consistency, and a systematic approach, your clients can master these fundamental movements, leading to enhanced overall physical fitness and performance.

Sample Workout Incorporating The Seven Fundamental Human Movements

The following workout is designed as a broad sample, showcasing how the seven fundamental human movements can be incorporated into a single session.

It’s important to remember that this is just an example, and the exercises, their order, volume, and intensity should be tailored to the individual’s fitness level, goals, and specific needs.

Medicine Ball Throw: Seven Fundamental Human Movements
  1. Power (Rotate): Medicine Ball Rotational Throws (3 sets of 10 reps per side) – start your workout with this explosive power movement to enhance coordination and strength in the transverse plane.
  2. Locomotion: Farmer’s Walks (3 sets of 50 meters) – a functional, full-body exercise that promotes stability and engages the muscles you use daily.
  3. Push: Push-Ups (3 sets of 10-15 reps) – this bodyweight exercise is a classic for developing upper body strength, specifically targeting the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
  4. Hinge: Kettlebell Swings (3 sets of 15 reps) – focus on your posterior chain with this dynamic movement, great for developing power and strength in the glutes and hamstrings.
  5. Squat: Goblet Squats (3 sets of 10 reps) – an effective lower body exercise that promotes mobility and strength in the hips, knees, and ankles.
  6. Pull: Inverted Rows (3 sets of 8 reps) – a fantastic movement for developing strength in the upper back and counterbalancing the pushing movements.
  7. Anti-Rotate: Single Arm Farmer’s Carry (2 sets of 50 meters per arm) – this movement challenges your core’s ability to resist rotation, promoting improved stability and alignment.

As before, ensure these exercises are tailored to the individual’s abilities and fitness levels, prioritizing proper form and technique over volume or load. This workout offers a balanced approach to training, ensuring each fundamental human movement is appropriately addressed.

Final Thoughts

The seven fundamental human movements provide a comprehensive lens to view, evaluate, and design fitness programs. Whether you’re working with an elite athlete or a fitness novice, these principles hold true, forming the foundation for sustainable physical development and performance.

Incorporating locomotion, hinge, squat, push, pull, rotation, and anti-rotation movements into a training program isn’t just about variety—it’s about addressing the full spectrum of human physical capabilities.

The careful consideration of these movements and their correct application ensures balanced, functional fitness that translates into everyday life and specific sports performance.

Assessments and corrective exercises play a crucial role in this process, pinpointing areas of weakness and providing the roadmap to retrain movement patterns effectively.

They’re tools that empower your clients, offering them insight into their progress and motivating them towards their goals.

The sample workout we discussed illustrates the versatility and potential for creativity within these seven movement frameworks.

Yet, remember that this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each client’s journey will be different—embracing their unique strengths, addressing their distinct weaknesses, and evolving in tune with their fitness goals.

As fitness professionals, our role is to guide this journey, ensuring proper form, progressive challenges, and personalized programming that aligns with the individual’s abilities and ambitions.

The seven fundamental human movements are more than just a training philosophy—they are a practical, effective, and time-tested approach to holistic fitness.

Here at Strength Matters, we recognize the power of these principles, which form the cornerstone of our training system.

We invite you to embrace them in your practice, helping your clients to unlock their full fitness potential.

After all, the strength of our bodies truly matters—it’s the foundation for our health, vitality, and quality of life. So, let’s move, and let’s move well.


What Are the Seven Fundamental Human Movements?

The Seven Fundamental Human Movements are Locomotion, Hinge, Squat, Push, Pull, Rotation, and Anti-Rotation. These movements form the foundation for all human physical activities.

Why Are the Seven Fundamental Human Movements Important in Training Programs?

The Seven Fundamental Human Movements address the full spectrum of human physical capabilities. Incorporating these movements into a training program ensures balanced, functional fitness that translates into everyday life and specific sports performance.

How Are the Seven Fundamental Movements Incorporated into a Training Program?

The Seven Fundamental Movements are incorporated into a training program through a variety of exercises. These exercises should be chosen based on their ability to effectively mimic the movement pattern and should be performed with proper form and at the right intensity.

How Does Strength Matters Use the Seven Fundamental Human Movements in Their Training System?

At Strength Matters, the Seven Fundamental Human Movements form the cornerstone of their training system. They are incorporated directly into the Strength Matters Assessment System, empowering clients to self-assess their performance in these movements.

How Do Corrective Exercises and Movement Assessments Fit into the Picture?

Corrective Exercises and Movement Assessments are vital in identifying areas of weakness and retraining movement patterns effectively. They are tools that empower clients, providing them with insights into their progress and motivating them toward their goals.

What Is an Example of a Workout That Incorporates All Seven Fundamental Human Movements?

A workout that includes all seven movements could start with power-based Locomotion exercises like hill sprints, followed by Hinge exercises such as kettlebell swings, Squats like goblet squats, upper-body Push and Pull movements like push-ups and pull-ups, and finishing with Rotational and Anti-Rotational exercises like medicine ball throws and the Pallof press.

Are the Seven Fundamental Human Movements the Same for Everyone?

While the movements themselves are universal, how they are incorporated into a training program will vary. Each individual’s strengths, weaknesses, fitness goals, and abilities should be taken into account when designing a training program.

Why Is Mastering These Movements Important for Fitness Professionals?

Mastering these movements allows fitness professionals to design comprehensive, balanced, and effective training programs. It also helps in identifying and correcting movement imbalances, which can improve performance and reduce the risk of injury


2 responses to “The Seven Fundamental Human Movements”
  1. Michael Campi avatar
    Michael Campi

    Hi James,
    I am wondering if you are still putting out the magazine. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

    1. James Breese avatar

      Hi Michael, we have been, but it’s on temporary hold as we change the name right now and get a new ISSN number. Are you interested in getting a copy? I’d be happy to mail you the last copy we did in the post for free… just email [email protected] with the info.

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