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5 basic movement patterns of resistance training

Whether you're new to training, an intermittent exerciser, or a seasoned trainee, these are the basics of training you will want to consider throughout your whole life. Regardless of primary sport or activity, goal, or abilities, these 5 basic movement patterns of resistance training are ones to include 5-ever. Of course, as you progress and get more sport specific, things may shift, but the foundational piece will remain a constant. Remember, fitness is for life. Read more about strength training benefits.

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1. Squat / Knee Dominant Exercises

This movement pattern is one that can be done with several different modalities including body weight, barbell, dumbbell(s), kettlebell(s), a plate, a pack, TRX, on a box, with heels elevated, and with various ranges of motion.



Back Squats, Front Squats, Goblet Squats, Lunges, Bulgarian Split Squats, Skater Squats, Pistol Squats, and Step-Ups.


2. Hinge / Hip Dominant Exercises

Similarly to squats, you can use various types of equipment and ranges of motion to achieve a hinge. A hinge is one of the first movement patterns I go over with my clients who are new to resistance training as it may not be as natural of a movement for some.



Deadlifts, Good Mornings, RDLs, Hip Thrusts, Glute Bridges, SL Deadlifts, SL Hip Thrusts, and KB Swings.


3. Push / Horizontal + Vertical

Both horizontal and vertical push movements are equally as important. Although overhead movements can be tricky for some people due to shoulder mobility or past injuries, I think it's important to work with a reputable physical therapist to help you improve your mobility and allow you to move more comfortably overhead.



Push-Ups, Chest Press, Shoulder Press, Push Press, Landmine Press, Incline Chest Press, Chest Fly, Dips, and Tricep Extension.


4. Pull / Horizontal + Vertical

Strengthening your pull movements can help with opening up your chest and improving overall posture. Pull exercises are often challenging to do without some sort of resistance, so I highly recommend accessing some form of equipment to get the most out of training in this movement pattern.



Pull-Ups, Chin Ups, Lat Pull Down, Rows, Inverted Rows, Face Pulls, Bicep Curls, and Back Fly.


5. Carries

Carries are one of the most underrated exercises, in my opinion. Although I do feel that squats, hinges, pushes, and pulls are more important comparatively speaking, variations of carries hold a significant value in contributing to grip strength. A study was published in 2019 that suggested grip strength served as a biomarker in overall strength, bone density, mental health, and all-cause and disease-specific mortality.


Carries aren't the only exercise that contribute to grip strength, but these are also considered a functional exercise as it mimics movements such as carrying in groceries, pulling a suitcase, or carrying your sleepy kiddo inside.



Farmer Carries, Suitcase Carries, Offset Carries, Overhead Carries, and Front Racked Carries.


BONUS #6: Core

You work your core in most exercises through bracing and other aspects such as rotation or anti-rotation in unilateral movements, but there is value to do core on its own, too.



Planks (prone), Superman (prone), Dead Bugs (supine), Hollow Hold (supine) Wood Chops (rotation), Windmill (rotation), Side Planks (anti-rotation), and Bird Dogs (anti-rotation).


Each of these movement patterns will set you off to a great start to a well-rounded training regime. Learn about KATHLETICS 1:1 online programming.


Katharine Moustakes
Hey, friend!

I'm Katharine.

I'm a personal trainer, running coaching, and nutrition coach who's stoked about lifting, the outdoors, summit snacks, and my dog.


I understand that fitness is not your whole life. Fitness is a PART of your life. I approach training in a way that adds value to your life and longevity, so you can enjoy being active whether you're romping around in the mountains, playing with your kids, or signing up for your first 10K race.

I'm here to meet you where you are, so you can train safely and effectively, and gain strength and confidence both in the gym and on the trails.

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