There are 8 basic strength movements: the Squat, Lunge, Hinge, Push, Pull, Arc/Hollow, Twist/Resist Twist, and Gait. We’ll cover these techniques and discuss the proper form to do them safely. We’ll also discuss various techniques to test muscle function by selecting members from the audience, and demonstrating how to test for proper neural control of muscles, and how to utilize strength training to restore and improve muscle function.
Preventing Injuries through Muscle Testing and Strength Training.
–Safer movements, more strength, less pain
8 Strength Training Foundation Exercises
What constitutes safe movement?
When it comes to personal training: there are 8 strength movements that build the foundation for almost all forms of exercise. These 8 moves can be complex or simple, or can go from simple to complex when combined. In order to gain maximum results from personal training all 8 movements, they need to be taught and executed safely. Safe movement, meaning movement with attention to proper body mechanics, aka “form,” has to be the basis of any exercise program. If there is no understanding of safe movement for athlete and coach, the risk of exercise induced injury is high.
Any discussion of safe movement has to incorporate three components, which are knowledge, ability, and range of motion. Knowledge is key. Knowledge of body mechanics, levers, and bar path, are just a few of the requirements for safe movement. Your personal trainer needs to understand the difference, for example, between motion created by the glute and quad in order to correct technique and recognize flaws in movement functionality. For both the athlete and personal trainer knowledge of correct form is paramount to any training program.
An athlete’s ability to be self aware of when and which muscles to contract during the execution of a movement will determine how safe the athlete will be during a particular exercise. If an athlete has never consciously contracted a muscle, their personal trainer will have to develop that ability in order to execute the proper mechanical movement during exercise. As muscle control is learned over time, the movement, if trained properly, becomes instinctual thereby allowing the athlete to gain strength and confidence while moving safely. For the personal trainer, understanding where an athlete is in regard to their ability to contract and relax specific muscles at given times during movement, is crucial to using programming that works for that individual and keeps the focus on getting stronger and leaner.
Taking the body through proper range of motion is also key to safe movement. If the personal trainer doesn’t teach full range of motion risk for injury greatly increases. Left unchecked: incorrect movement patterns become ingrained causing increasing harm to the biomechanics and fascia. These bad patterns can be time consuming to “unlearn” as well and may require speciality personal training instructors to repair. Once proper range of motion and proper knowledge are learned the execution of correct form, ie safe movement, becomes easier to achieve. Safe movement results in injury-free strength gains which in turn leads to better body composition, better health, and increased confidence and self-esteem for the athlete. Without safe movement the potential for positive outcomes is greatly diminished and the risk for negative outcomes increased.
Squat, Lunge, Hinge, Push, Pull, Arc/Hollow, Twist/Resist Twist, and Gait
The Squat is a fundamental which involves recruiting quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, proper execution also requires the ability to contract the muscles of the upper back and abdomen. If any of these muscle groups aren’t activated properly during this movement the squat has increased injury potential.
Next in line is the lunge, this is a movement dependent on utilizing the glutes, hip flexors, and tibilais anteriorus. A lunge, executed properly, is strong and balanced, pushes through the floor and maintains the knee in good alignment and not too far over the toes. The lunge especially useful to personal trainers because it is easily combines with other pushing moves allowing for combinations that raise testosterone and build muscle.
The hinge, the movement of the pelvis forward and backward, uses the glutes. The hinge starts many movements, including but not limited to, the squat, deadlift, and power clean. It is especially important when executing kettle bell swings. Unless your personal training is certified through a company like the Russian Kettle Club, there is a good chance he or she can’t teach you to properly execute a swing. They are extremely complicated and require advanced training to execute properly. A faulty, or poorly executed hinge will limit load and can lead to injury.
Push and pull are the next two movements. A push means movement away from the midline of the body. Push movements utilize pectoral and tricep muscles, and include such exercises as the push-up, bench press, and ring dips. In big box gyms, the bench press remains a corner stone movement for developing chest, but the sled push works almost as well, but burns a lot more calories per hour. The wall ball is equally gruelling incorporating a squat and push
Sled Push is a compound exercise working shoulder, triceps, chest, and of course legs
Wall balls are squat and pushThese movements activate the muscles of the back and arms, like the trapezius, and biceps. The pull up is a good example, if the latissimus dorsi and traps aren’t both activated, the pull up is hard to sustain or improve upon. Other examples of pull movements include rows and muscle-ups.
Arc/Hollow are involved in all forms of safe movement. Joints flex and extend, whereas muscles contract and relax. Muscles don’t extend. Knowledge of flexion and extension is important, especially with regard to the spine. The spine is a long series of joints, understanding this about the spine and utilizing correct motion in concert with back and abdominal muscles leads to continual safe movement and strength building.
Twist/resist twist, also known as lateral flexion, is done by isolation of the torso muscles, including the transverse abdominus and obliques. Any twisting motion requires full engagement of these muscle groups, but they are also important players in movements such as deadlift and press.
Last is gait, simply explained as the mechanics of walking, jumping, and running and any variations of those two things. While seemingly simple: there is a great amount of flexibility and form that goes into running and jumping correctly. Properly biomechanics improves efficiency, prevents injury, and improves ability. Most running injuries are results of improper gait. Gait also includes how the arms, neck, and torso are functioning as the body moves through space.
Almost all exercise is a form of or a combination of the eight basic movements listed above. Having knowledge of the eight movements and understanding correct form for the basics allows the athlete to perform all kinds of combined, complex movements. For example the thruster, one of the best full body exercises ever, is a combination of a squat and a press. The snatch, one of the cornerstone Olympic lifts is a pull plus a hinge and a squat. Not to be ignored, the muscle up is a mix of a pull and flexion/extension. Once these foundational movements are learned and applied correctly athletes and coaches have a full tool box from which to get stronger, faster, and more complex while staying safe.