Foundational Movement Patterns Part 1

​Throughout the day, we’re always moving. We sit, bend, stand, walk, and everything else in between. Every time we do something, we go through various forms of the foundational movements of the human body. Although our bodies may look different in many ways, our foundational movements are alike.

These movements are:
Squat, Hinge, Lunge, Push, Pull, Carry, Crawl.

​We’re just going to cover the 3 lower body specific movements today. Don’t think of these as “exercises”, instead, think of them as movement patterns that we can perfect by selecting various modes to strengthen the pattern.

The squat is a knee-dominant movement pattern using both legs. To optimally perform a squat, it requires coordination of the hips, knees, and ankles with a relatively upright torso. We go through this pattern every time we sit and stand. Since a young age, our bodies were meant to squat. Babies and young children often perform a deep squat as a functional resting position. When this movement pattern is trained with resistance, we build lower body strength to increase our ability to jump and sprint.
​​For an optimal body weight squat:
-Feet straight forward, shoulder width apart
-Weight distributed evenly on mid foot
-Heel, big toe, and pinky toe always in contact with ground, never let arch collapse
​-Knees in line with feet
-Drive knees and ankles out to create hip tension to fully activate glutes
-​Initiate squat by hinging hips back, not knees forward
-Squat down until top of thigh is parallel with floor
-Flat neutral spine from head to hips
-Okay for knees to go past toes if hips engaged properly


Unlike the squat, a hinge is a hip-dominant movement pattern, not knee dominant. A hinge movement loads the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae, etc.) and less use of quadriceps compared to squat. Every time we bend over to pick something up, we perform a hip hinge pattern. Even though the squat and hinge are different patterns, a proper squat is initiated with a hip hinge, then followed by a descent into a squat. For movements such as jumping and sprinting, an optimal hip hinge will allow us to maintain a neutral spine to produce force at the highest capacity. Once the flat back position is broken, our power production capabilities severely decrease.

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For an optimal hinge:

-Feet straight forward, hip to shoulder width apart
-Knees slightly bent, never locked out
-Push hips back, lean forward, shift weight slightly to heels
-Shins should be relatively vertical (knees don’t move forward)
-Flat back from start to finish
-Will feel stretch in hamstrings if pelvis is in proper position
-Felt in lower back if in a bad position

The lunge pattern is unique because it’s the only pattern performed with an asymmetrical stance. The proficiency of the lunge pattern will determine the ability to handle loads when our feet are in a split stance or when we’re on 1 leg. Every time we walk, run, change direction, jump off 1 leg, or walk upstairs we perform variations of this movement
For an optimal lunge:
-Feet hip width apart
-Front foot points straight forward
-Weight distributed evenly on mid foot
-Heel, big toe, and pinky toe always in contact with ground, never let arch collapse
-Knee in line with foot
-Shoulder, hip, and back knee stacked on top of each other, with the hips in a neutral position to prevent arching or rounding of lower back
-From side view, back knee should not be in front or behind hip