6 Foundational Movements You Need To Master

fitness training tips Nov 09, 2020

Before you start thinking about lifting heavier, more dynamic, or increasing intensity, you need to assess your proficiency in what I consider are the 6 foundational movements.


Here are the movements:

  1. Push (Horizontal) → Push Up
  2. Pull (Vertical or Horizontal )  → Pull Up
  3. Press (Vertical)  → Overhead Press 
  4. Deadlift  
  5. Squat   
  6. Carry  


In construction, without a good foundation there's no way you can build a quality home. Similar to building a house, being able to perform all 6 movements well will set up the foundation for the rest of your training and performance.


I find that the athletes who neglect quality and mastery of these movements in the early stage of training, tend to build compensations that can lead to injury and poor performance later on. 


Performing the foundational 6

The following are what I consider to be key points to performing the foundation movements well: :


  • Coordination : understanding and completion of the movement pattern in proper sequence

You want to be able to understand and internalize the movement pattern so that you do it well. After enough practice you should be able to start and finish a movement without any guidance, assistance, or disruption. 


  • Control : performing each section of the movement with good stability and smooth transitions

From beginning to end, your form should be sound and without compensations. Through each portion of the movement, each joint involved should be stable to allow for smooth transitions throughout the sequence.


  • Breathing : smooth breathing pattern throughout movement

Breathing should not be impaired for the sake of moving. When performing any movement, there should be a steady exchange of inhale to exhale and vice versa.  

Very common I see athletes unconsciously holding their breath as a form of false stability. In the middle of the movement breathing stops, due to an increase of required coordination or stability which continues again later in the movement. 

So it's important to focus on the first two key points to maximize the third, because poor oxygen exchange can hinder endurance and overall performance. 


  • Force Production: the application of force of the body in the proper direction for optimal movement and performance

Where you apply force and how is important for strength and overall efficiency of the movement. For example, in a deadlift, applying pressure to the mid foot and heel will yield a much stronger and concise movement as compared to the ball of the foot. 

Creating a baseline

Give these movements a try and use the checklist below to create your own baseline and start to strengthen your foundation.


  • Are you able to do each movement?
  • Can you do it with good form and under control? 
  • Did you need assistance or guidance? 
  • Can you perform 10 repetitions with good form and control ?
  • Did you have to modify the exercise in order to complete the movement?
  • Are you experiencing any discomfort or pain during or after?


Over the next few weeks, I will dive deeper into how to perform and optimize each of the 6 foundational movements. Stay tuned!



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