We often overlook the simple everyday movements we make in daily life, but training your body to withstand the rigors of everyday life can help you to prevent injury and reach your fitness goals. Everyday movement exercises are too often ignored, but they should form a core component of any exercise regime.
There are seven major everyday movements that human beings will perform, going through their daily routines. These range from squatting to rotating. With basic everyday movement exercises (that everyone can perform in their own home), you can target these movements by strengthening core muscles and keeping your joints healthy.
In this article, our fitness experts explain what the seven basic human movements are and how you can benefit from regular everyday movement exercises.
What are the 7 essential movements?
There are seven essential movements that humans beings will make on a daily basis. These daily movements are quite simple in nature, but using these movements or a combination of movements, allows us to go about our daily lives and routines.
We use the seven essential movements to carry the laundry basket up the stairs, to push a shopping cart around the supermarket, and to unpack your shopping bags when you get home. These movements use everyday muscles, and importantly, our joints.
We often overlook these movements if we are training, but it's these movements that we also use as the basis for sporting activities.
Having a regular and structured functional training regime will improve your capacity for everyday movements. You can avoid injury from everyday tasks such as loading the dishwasher, which, as we get old older, can become more common an occurrence. You can then build further fitness, using everyday movement exercises as a basis for your strength and mobility.
The basic pull movement incorporates any movements whereby we pull ourselves towards an object, or whereby we pull an object towards ourselves. The movement uses multiple muscles, including triceps and back.
In daily life, you often pull cupboards open or reach up towards shelves, to then pull objects down towards you. The most basic pull exercise you can perform is, of course, the classic pull-up, or chin up, where you pull your body towards the bar.
The push movement is the opposite of the pull movement. We often push ourselves away from an object or push an object away from our bodies. These movements use biceps and shoulder muscles.
We commonly use the push movement to push ourselves up from a sitting to a standing position, for example. The most basic everyday exercise you can perform to help improve your ability to push is the push-up
Squatting is the movement that allows human beings to lower their body to the ground by bending the knees. It's a movement that you use a lot more than you think in everyday life. Every time you bend down to pick up an item from the floor, you're using the squat movement in its most basic form.
The squat is a great everyday movement exercise you can repeat anywhere. Stand shoulder-width apart and bend your knees to lower your body closer to the ground, with your arms outstretched in front of you.
A lunge is performed when you step forward with one leg, and both knees bent. We often think of the lunge as an exaggerated movement, with the front leg prominently ahead of the back leg.
This is the basic lunge exercise movement, which will strengthen your leg and back muscles, but we use less exaggerated lunges every day too. Lunges are performed every time we walk up the stairs, for instance!
The hinge movement occurs when we bend our bodies over the hips (the hips are, essentially, a type of hinge!). This is one of the most common movements you will perform in everyday life, so it's important to have healthy hip joints and strong core muscles.
A basic everyday movement exercise you can perform to work your hips is the hip rotation. Stand shoulder-width apart and rotate your hips gently in circles.
Rotation also involves using the hips and your core muscles. We rotate when we look behind, or when we twist to throw a ball. Walking and jogging also involve rotation.
Having strong core muscles and healthy joints will help you to better rotate and avoid injury when you are rotating your body.
The carry movement involves carrying objects while walking or running. You might see this as a move made by football players when they run the pitch with the ball in their hands, but you're also performing the movement every time you get up from the couch holding a cup of coffee, or every time you carry a basket of laundry from one room to the next!
Using a resistance band during functional training
Using resistance bands as part of a functional training workout will help you to improve on your basic fitness, strength, and mobility.
Resistance bands are easy to use, yet are proven to produce results. They simply help increase the resistance your muscles and joints encounter as you perform your exercises. There are several major benefits you can reap from incorporating resistance bands into your movement workouts, all of which will help with your everyday fitness:
- Increase joint health and mobility
- Increased flexibility
- Burn fat and tone muscles
- Prevent injuries
- Workout anywhere!
The everyday movement exercises we've outlined below can help you make use of resistance bands to increase the difficulty of the movements and perform better. You can increase the resistance slowly over time to help you see improvements week to week, from your workout schedule.
Functional movement exercises you can try at home
The following functional movement exercises can be performed in repetitions of 10-15, with recommended sets of 3. Build your own workout from the exercises below. You can easily schedule these exercises into existing workout schedules or build a new training regime based on functional movement exercises.
These exercises will target the seven essential movements of everyday life. We always advise that you perform a light warm-ups and stretches before attempting any exercises.
#1 Inverted row
Inverted rows will improve your ability to perform the 'Pull' movement by working your arm, shoulder, and back muscles.
You pull your body weight while inclined at an angle. You can use resistance bands to perform the movement at home.
- Secure a resistance band to a location above you, such as a doorframe.
- Take the strain by leaning backward.
- Pull yourself back towards the resistance band using your arm and back muscles.
The best way to work on your 'Push' movement, is to regularly perform sets of push-ups. These work your chest and arm muscles.
- Adopt the push-up position with your legs behind you and hands placed firmly below your shoulders.
- Lower yourself to the ground, then push up using your arms and chest to regain your starting position.
#3 Resistance band squats
You can improve your 'Squat' movements and technique using resistance band squats.
- Place a hip circle resistance band around your thighs.
- Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees to lower your body.
- Keep your back straight, and your arms held out in front of you.
#4 Reverse lunge (with resistance band)
Work on your daily 'Lunge' movements by practicing resistance band reverse lunges.
- Place a hip circle resistance band around your thighs.
- Take a step backward with your leg bent towards the ground.
- Bring your leg back to the starting position.
- Step backward with the other leg bent towards the ground.
#5 Glute bridge
Work on core strength and hip rotation using glute bridges to improve your 'Hinge' movements.
- Lie with your back and legs on the floor.
- Place a resistance band around your thighs, just above the knees.
- Use your core muscles to raise your hips toward the ceiling, before lowering again.
#6 Pall of Press with resistance band
USe the Pall of Press to work on your 'Rotation' movements by building core muscles.
- Secure a resistance band at chest height.
- Firmly grip the band and use both hands to pull it towards your chest.
- Focus on using your core muscles as you pull the band backward and forwards.
#7 One arm overhead extensions
Build arm strength to help with your 'Carry' movements.
- Stand with one foot firmly holding down a resistance band on the floor.
- Take the other end of the band and raise your arm, so the band is at your shoulder level.
- Lower the band, then raise again.
The last shout on everyday movement exercises
Being able to perform basic functional movements during your everyday life is more important for most people than being able to run a marathon or deadlift your own body weight at the gym.
Everyday movement exercises can easily be incorporated into your daily routine, to strengthen vital muscles, and to help you avoid injury when carrying out simple tasks.
Everyday movement exercises can form a core part of your fitness regime, which in turn will help you progress and achieve larger fitness goals and targets.