When it comes to exercise there is no substitute for the primal movement patterns. 

These movement patterns have been developed through thousands of years of evolution. But what are the primal movement patterns and how should you incorporate them into your workout plan?

The 7 Primal Movement Patterns

The 7 primal movement patterns are

These patterns are the foundation for any movement that occurs in the body. Therefore, they are great movements to include in your workouts.

To effectively use the primal movement patterns in your workout you need two things.

Firstly, you need to understand the different exercises within each pattern.

Secondly, you have to understand the best order for these exercises.

Primal Movement Pattern Exercises:

Here is a list of exercises within each movement pattern.

Squat – Box Squat, Air Squat, Back Squat

Lunge – Split Squat, Walking Lunge, Box Step Up

Push – Push Up, Bench Press, Shoulder Press, Bench Dip

Pull – Pull up, Dumbbell Row, Odd Object Row, Lat Pulldown

Bend – Glute Bridge, Deadlift, Kettlebell Swing, Single-Leg RDL

Core – Plank, Front Leaning Rest

Locomotion – Walking, Hiking, Running

How to Use the Primal Movement Patterns in a Workout

The amount of experience you have working out will determine the best way for you to use the primal movement patterns.

If you are new to working out or have not followed a consistent plan for a couple of years start by training 3-5 of the primal movements per workout. Your goal is to develop the ability to control your muscle, motor control, and since you are new to training you will not need as much stimulus to create adaptation. 

If you have been training from 1-3 years consistently, split up workouts into upper and lower body days, using only the patterns within that categorization. Focus on developing motor control and strength endurance. 

Finally, if you have been training for many years you can devote an entire workout to a pattern and its many variations. Focus on motor control, strength endurance, and also maximal contractions. You need the largest amount of stimulus to adapt. 

Put Your Exercises in Order

How you order your exercises in a workout will dramatically alter your energy throughout the workout, its efficiency, and what muscles it works. 

Start by putting the toughest exercise first, such as the back squat, pull up, or deadlift. If you are incorporating multiple tough movements start with the exercise you want to give the most attention to.

From there continue to order the exercises from most challenging to least. If you are doing cardio, order it last or better yet devote an entire workout to it.

Movement Quality Over Quantity

Over time the fitness industry has started to value quantity over quality. Fitness influencers and workout templates preach the volume of reps over form and intent. 

If you want the best results from your primal movement pattern workout focus on the quality of your movement. Slow down and make sure you have great form and that you are engaging the muscle. In a recent Instagram post, Ben Pakulski put it best, “Challenging the muscle is the goal. Doing more ineffective reps is senseless and often leads to more negative effects than positive.”

If you have any questions about the primal movement patterns or want help creating your workout plan, please feel free to reach out

I'm Sean. Owner of MTBS&F and self-proclaimed ski/bike bum. Catch me on the trails on the weekends and working out during the week.

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