top of page
  • Alex

The 4 Essential Movements you should be training

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

If you’ve read part one of this series of articles you’ll know that I think we should prioritise strength training over spending time doing cardio. So what strength exercises should we be doing? There seems like hundreds of choices, too many to do fit everything in. So the purpose of this article is to simplify these endless choices down and demonstrate that there is only really 4 essential movements and that everything else is simply either an isolated part of one of these movements or a combination of them. Let’s start with defining movements into some simple categories, so first question: "is it the upper body or the lower body that is working most?". In a bicep curl it is clearly the upper body, and doing a lunge is a lower body exercise. Question number two: "are we pushing or pulling?". The easiest and most obvious comparison is push ups and pull ups. Both clearly work the upper body more than the lower but involve very different muscle groups and movements of the body. While this may seem like an easy question, the concept of pushing and pulling is dependant on the direction of the movement relative to the ourselves. So doing a tricep extension overhead using a cable machine may be considered “pulling” the cable because it is located behind you, the movement is exactly the same as if we were to lay down on a bench and do a “skull crusher” tricep extension, which we would consider “pushing” the weight up. Both use the same muscles in the same way. What we are really talking about here is: does the movement focus on the anterior (front) or posterior (back) muscle groups of the body. In order to keep it simple most of the time what we consider “Pushing” is done by the anterior (front muscles) and “Pulling” usually has a posterior (back) focus.