As you get started on your fitness journey, you may be tempted to jump into strength training or cardio routines. But first, focus on the fundamentals. Form, technique, and positioning will help you build a foundation for fitness success. Here are seven fundamental fitness movements to master.
Seen in: sumo squats, squats, goblet squats, split squats, Bulgarian split squats
The squat is an important fundamental movement since you could form a squat to sit on a chair or a low-to-the-ground rock. Squats are knee-dominant and shift the weight toward your butt, working your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Some variations also work your abs.
Here’s what to do to master the squat:
- Start with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Engage your quad muscles and drive your weight through the hips and toward your butt.
- Bend your knees and begin to lower yourself toward the ground.
- Keep your back flat as you tighten your core.
- Push through your heels to stand back up.
Seen in: deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, kettlebell swings, kettlebell rows
The hip hinge is another fundamental movement. You use this type of movement when you pick up something using two hands, such as a suitcase or groceries.
However, doing a hip hinge wrong is also one of the quickest ways to injure yourself. If you try to lift using your back instead of your upper thighs and hips, you can end up with a sore back or permanent back injury. Like the squat, the hip hinge works the glutes and hamstrings, but it also engages your lower back and core muscles.
Follow these tips to complete a hip-hinge deadlift:
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Drive your weight back toward your butt and heels.
- Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward to about a 45-degree angle, keeping your back flat as you lower your body.
- Push your hips forward and tighten your glutes to stand back up.
Seen in: push-ups, dumbbell shoulder press, bench press, knee push-ups, wall push-ups
The push is a fundamental movement you might do to push yourself away from something or to push something away from you. When you push, you engage your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles to complete the movement. But you could also cause a shoulder or back injury if you don't maintain the right form. This is why a strong core is essential for any push movement.
Here’s how to complete a push-up:
- Get down with your stomach toward the ground, and place your hands near the chest about shoulder-width apart.
- Place your feet about 12-inches apart with your toes driving into the ground.
- Keep your body in a straight line and engage your core muscles.
- Begin to bend your elbows as you lower yourself, keeping the elbows from flaring out. (You want them to resemble an A-shape.)
- Continue to lower yourself as you keep your back flat.
- Push into the ground and tighten your core muscles to rise back up, without locking the elbow.
Seen in: pull-ups, barbell row, inverted row, cable rows, lat pulldowns
Another fundamental movement is the pull. This one shows up in real life whenever you need to pull objects toward you, such as when moving furniture or pulling heavy items off a shelf. When you have the right form, though, you work your mid and upper back, biceps, forearms, and shoulders.
Follow these steps to move through a pull-up.
- Grab onto the pull-up bar with your hands just outside of shoulder-width and hang without tensing your muscles.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together, pushing them down at the same time.
- Engage your biceps and chest muscles, creating tension.
- Tighten your core muscles as you pull yourself up to the bar.
- Relax the tension in your arms and slowly lower yourself down.
Seen in: woodchops, Russian twist, crunches, bicycle crunches
This movement is different from other movements in that it engages the core. Rotation involves twisting and flexing your abdomen and sides, and it’s important for everyday activities. You use twisting whenever you kick a ball or move boxes and furniture. You also use this movement for golf, baseball, and other sports.
Rotation and flexing is a core muscle builder that mainly works the abs, obliques, and transverse abdominal muscle – a critical stabilizer for your lower back.
Here’s what to do for a bicycle crunch:
- Lie on your back with your legs elevated and slightly tucked in.
- Place your hands behind and cradling the head and extend your elbows out.
- Cross your left elbow over your body while bringing your right knee from the opposite direction.
- Touch your elbow to your knee.
- Repeat with the opposite elbow and opposite knee.
Seen in: farmer’s walk, jogging, suitcase carry
Walking involves a variety of motions like lunging, rotating, and balance. When you have a proper gait, you help to strengthen your lower body. A loaded carry, which is when you carry weights like kettlebells, can help you improve your upper body as well.
Here's how to do a loaded carry like a farmer's walk:
- Get into a standing position.
- Bend at the knees and grab onto a kettlebell or dumbbell with each hand.
- Rise up and keep your back straight.
- Hold the weights at your sides and walk at a normal pace, keeping your core tight.
Seen in: side lunges, lunges, curtsy lunges, sprinter lunges
Lunges are a fundamental lower body movement that works your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, but they also work your core muscles. Since your legs are split, you work on flexibility and balance as well. Lunges are like a transitional movement as you move from a sitting to a standing position.
Follow these steps for a full lunge:
- Stand upright.
- Step forward with one leg and position your knee directly over your ankle.
- With your other leg, lower your body until that leg is parallel with the ground. Keep your core muscles tight.
- Push off with the first leg, driving your heel into the ground as you move back and return to a split standing position.
Once you master these seven movements, you'll have the techniques and form to take on routines with greater intensity. Get in touch with our fitness experts at G&G Fitness Equipment for guidance on how you can outfit your own at-home gym and work fitness into your routine.