Fundamental Movement Patterns
The vast majority of people getting in the gym aren't training for any specific event. The average "gym-goer" simply has the goal of increasing health and wellness so they can continue to do what they enjoy doing OUTSIDE of the gym... nothing more, nothing less.
So is there a secret exercise program that can help individuals reach this goal?
Truth be told, any type of consistent physical activity is going to help with increasing overall health and fitness levels. This includes machine exercises, yoga, walking/running, free weights, swimming, anything that elevates heart rate and stresses the muscular system.
However, we can definitely be more targeted in our approach to training if the end goal is to remain active outside of the gym. 90% of everyday human movement/activity can be categorized into 6 fundamental movement patterns. Expose your body to these movements on a regular basis and set yourself up for success.
The squat is a crucial movement because of the mobility and stability components required to execute the exercise. It requires a ton of core stability as well as hip/knee/ankle mobility. Anytime you pick something up off the floor you should be moving with the squat pattern in mind.
The hinge teaches people how to separate movement from the hips from movement in the spine. These two areas often times move as a single unit which can put too much stress on the low back. You should think about hinging whenever grabbing objects from low spaces (i.e. taking cleaning supplies out of the cabinets below the sink).
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You should be able to push objects both overhead and straight out in front of your body. Imagine putting luggage in the overhead compartment of a plane or pushing yourself up off the ground after a fall.
Similar to the last pattern, you should be able to pull objects from an overhead position and from out in front of your body. Think about pulling weeds in the garden or pulling yourself up into a lifted truck.
The lunge mirrors the pattern your body uses to walk/run. It is great because it trains single leg stability, strength, and mobility. Anytime you are walking/running (especially up stairs) you are doing a less exaggerated version of a lunge. The lunge is also an integral part of standing from a kneeling position as would likely occur after a trip/fall.
Grip strength and balance are powerful predictors of future disability, morbidity, and mortality. Having a strong grip and solid balance is essential for many everyday tasks such as carrying groceries or helping someone up off the floor. Carrying exercises challenge both.
These fundamental patterns aren't the only way to increase functional fitness. At the end of the day, consistent physical activity of any type is more important than any specific exercise/program. But these patterns do offer a whole lot of bang for your buck!
As always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns.