There are 8 common movement themes in functional movements. These movements allow us to express our fitness safely and efficiently. In every workout and movement done we should think about these 8 themes and figure out what are the primary ones we need to focus.
Midline Stabilization - Every movement we do in and out of the gym requires some level of midline stabilization. This is core strength or the ability to resist flexion and extension. We want to be able to engage the trunk (midline) throughout movements.
Core to Extremity - This is the ability to use your larger muscle groups before your smaller ones. Larger muscle groups are stronger, more explosive, and tire less quickly then smaller muscle groups. Think about using your hips vs. using your arms.
Balance about the Frontal Plane - The easiest way to think about this one is squatting. We want to make sure that we are not coming to our toes (this will recruit to much of the anterior chain aka quads) or our hips are to far back (this will recruit too much posterior chain and not be a very safe position). We want to see a balanced squat throughout the movement.
Posterior Chain Engagement - The glutes, hamstrings, and erectors are big muscles that can handle a lot of load. They also allow for safe and efficient movement. Recruiting too much of the anterior chain (quad dominance) can lead to knee injuries and decreased performance.
Sound Hip Function - Sound hip function is aggressive. Think of a box jump, a clean, or a sit up. Having the ability to fully utilize your hips will help keep you functional in life and move fast.
Active Shoulders - This is the ability to push opposite the weight is pulling you, think of a deadlift. The weight is pulling you down and if your shoulders are not active the shoulders will round and your back will round in turn. This is very similar to the midline stability. We should have active shoulders in almost all movements.
Full Range of Motion - Moving through full range of motion in all movements will allow us to build capacity in all positions that life can throw at us. If you can squat so the crease of your hip is below the top of your knee you will not have any issue using the bathroom as you age. If you can do a turkish get up starting on the floor, standing, then getting back down you will be able to get up if you trip and fall.
Stance and Grip - Working multiple stances and grips will help create a balanced stimulus. We also want to make sure we are using proper stances and grips for the given movement. For a box jump we want a narrow foot stance, not a wide one. For snatches we want a wide hand grip, not a narrow one.
A movement will always use at least two of these themes. Don't just go through the motions, focus on the mechanics of the movement. When there are sound mechanics, performance and safety increase.
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