Training The 7 Movement Patterns

When I first started personal training, I had the faintest clue on how to create a workout or program training sessions. I knew anatomy, physiology, how we should work larger muscle groups first, and focus on compound movements, but I felt like it was not enough information to effectively program. In the beginning days of my Equinox career, I learned to train the 7 movement patterns, and ultimately you will train many muscle groups and move in all planes of motion. How you program the sets and reps will vary depending on the client’s fitness level and goals. Once I learned the 7 movement patterns and finding exercises for each of them, it made creating workouts so much easier. Here I will identify the movement patterns and a few examples of exercises for them

  1. Knee dominant – Movements that involve knee bending and extending. This movement is quadricep (front of the thigh) dominant and includes exercises such as squats and lunges.

  2. Hip Dominant – Movements that involve hip flexion and extension like we do in hip hinging. This movement is hamstring and glute (back of the thigh) dominant and includes exercises such as glute bridges and deadlifts.

  3. Horizontal Push – Movements that involve pushing your own weight or another weight in a horizontal direction. This movement primarily works chest, shoulders, and arms. Exercises include push ups and bench press.

  4. Vertical Push – Movements that involve pushing your own weight or another weight in a vertical direction. This movement primarily works chest, shoulders, and arms. Exercises include shoulder press and pike push ups.

  5. Horizontal Pull – Movements that involve pulling your own weight or another weight in a horizontal direction. This movement primarily works the muscles of your back and arms. Exercises include TRX row and cable seated rows.

  6. Vertical Pull – Movements that involve pulling your own weight or another weight in a vertical direction. This movement primarily works the muscles of your back and arms. Exercises include lat pulldowns and pull ups.

  7. Core – Movements that involve bracing the muscles in and around your abdominals, some muscles of your lower back, and your glutes (yes the core is more than just where your six pack is.) Imagine wearing a corset, and the muscles underneath it are what we consider core. There are 2 categories for this movement.

    • Anti-rotational – You are resisting twisting and rotating. An example of this exercise is the Pallof press. This is performed on the cable machine or a band, where you brace your core and press the cable out without it rotating you.
    • Anti-gravitational – You are resisting gravity from pushing you back onto the ground. An example of this exercise is a plank. You brace your core and hold that position fighting gravity from breaking your form or having you return to the ground.

Remembering these 7 movement patterns has helped me create effective workouts that hit all muscle groups and movements. Instead of thinking about muscles, start thinking about movements. When you train movements, you train multiple muscle groups. On your next leg day, you can ask yourself if you’ve hit both knee dominant and hip dominant movements. On your next push day, check if you’ve hit both horizontal and vertical pushes.

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