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Fit 4 Life | Foundational movement [Part I]

Published:Monday | February 11, 2019 | 12:00 AMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
The lunge is a lower-body movement in which one foot steps away, while other remains planted, akin to the way we move when we walk.

Training is, most often, thought of in terms of muscles. For example, we think squat to strengthen your quads and glutes. It's no surprise: we know that certain exercises will affect certain muscles, therefore, we build training programmes around using exercises to target specific muscle groups.

The reality, however, is that this is counter to how our bodies work. There is no movement in which we use a single muscle or group. As such, training movement patterns is a safer, more effective, and more efficient approach to fitness.

While movement pattern-based training is much more complicated, there are some foundational patterns that everyone should train at least once a week. Mastering and maintaining proficiency in these movements, provide a strong foundation for any activity you may take on, whether in sports or everyday life.


The squat is a movement in which both feet are planted and we bend at the knees and hips to lower our bodies. Sitting down and getting up – things we do many times each day – are squatting movements. So it is easy to see how squatting translates to health and quality of life, but what about athletic performance? The benefits for performance are numerous; for example, squatting improves performance in many sports movements such as jumping and also improves power output.


• When it comes to squatting, there is no one-size-fits-all. You must find the squat variations that best fit your skills and goals. 

• Be sure to master basic bodyweight squats before using any resistance or trying any other variation.

COMMON VARIATIONS: Bodyweight squat, goblet squat, barbell front squat, barbell back squat, sumo squat.


The lunge is a lower-body movement in which one foot steps away, while other remains planted, akin to the way we move when we walk. Lunging, more so than squats, easily translates to everyday life. Most lower-body movements are single-leg, lunge-like movements, for example, walking, running climbing stairs, etc. One major advantage of lunges is that they will highlight and address weaknesses and imbalances more readily, as each leg is required to hold its own.


• Lunges are hard. Master the movement before adding any resistance.

• Pay close attention to form even when resistance is low.

• Be careful with progression. Take time to ensure you have mastered the movement with your current resistance level before adding more weight or trying a new variation.

COMMON VARIATIONS: Bodyweight forward/lateral/reverse lunge, split squat, dumbbell lunge, single-leg deadlift, step up.


The hinge or bend is the movement of flexing and/or extending the hips. This pattern is a common area for deficiency because, by the time we become adults, many persons lose the ability to safely bend. Poor hip hinge patterns are dangerous and will lead to lower-back pain and injury, but not training this movement is even riskier. Avoiding hinge training allows the movement and the tissues to deteriorate further, leading to more serious injuries and pain, because it is nearly impossible to avoid this movement in everyday life.


• Master the movement before adding weights. 

• Do not round your back. Keep your chest up and your lower back flat as much as possible.

COMMON VARIATIONS: Bodyweight Romanian deadlift (RDL), dumbbell/barbell RDL, dumbbell deadlift.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email:;