The four natural movement patterns

Jamie Verwey

The movements in which the human body can move can be divided into four movement patterns. These movements are;
1. Hinge
2. Squat
3. Push
4. Pull

In this blog I hope to give you a more biomechanical approach to the patterns, in what chain it operates (more in-depth coming soon) and how do we see these movements back in our regular WOD classes

The hinge

  • The hinge is a movement made possible by as the name says a hinge, this hinge takes place at the hip. How this movement is initiated is by quite obviously hinging, now this may seem obvious but it is quite the opposite to perform in real life.
    The hip (Art. Coxae) makes six movements possible; flexion, extension, ab- and adduction (moving your leg sideways) and rotation (internal and external) of the femur (upper leg). During the hinge we want to use the flexion and extension.
    In understanding the hinge visualize this; your back as one solid unit, softened
    knees and now drill a pipe through your hip* from the side. This pipe is your axle and by only using this axle two movements will become possible flexion and extension a.k.a. hinging.
  • The hinge is an internal torque (IT) based movement, this means you want to use the chain of muscles associated with this chain and will translate to your parasympatic nervous system.
    • The external oblique opener and the hinge opener teach you the right torque in the hinge.
  • The hinge is seen in an array of exercises; deadlift (conventional, stiff leg and Romanian), squat and the KB swing (American and Russian).

*Disclaimer, don’t actually do this

Squat

  • The squat as a movement pattern differs from what might come to mind thinking of an actual sandbag- or barbell squat. The squat as a movement pattern is the jumping motion. How to squat is to place yourself at the top of a hinge and violently extend in the wanted direction through the three joints of the lower extremity (hip, knees, and ankles). This jumping motion can create enormous amounts of force and is used in a lot of sports, for example, Olympic weightlifting. In Olympic weightlifting the squat (movement pattern) is also referred to as the triple extension. By extending in a vertical motion weightlifters can lift incredible amounts of weight.
  • The squat is an external torque(ET) based movement, this means you want to use the chain of muscles associated with this chain and will translate to your sympathetic nervous system.
  • The base of the squat is a violent extension, so think of a broad jump, vertical jump, a clean or snatch. And it is also in these exercises in which we see the squat during our regular WOD classes.

Push

‘To press upon or against (a thing) with force in order to move it away’[1]

  • The push as we see it may differ from the motions of which you are currently thinking about. It is not only a horizontal push but also a vertical pushing motion (frontal and sagittal plane), not only up but also down and not only with straight arms but also bent.
  • The push is an internal torque (IT) based movement, this means you want to use the chain of muscles associated with this chain and will translate to your parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Movements in which we see the push; push-up, rope-pulls, press, and a pull-up.
    • You may see rope-pulls and pull-up and be confused as the name even has ‘pull’ in it. Let me clarify, during the rope-pull you want to press the object away, see it as an arm-wrestling move, you try to push the rope away from your body. And then we have the pull-up, the pull is a tricky one. The reason being this exercise can be performed in a multiple of ways and can, therefore, be used as an IT-based movement as an ET based movement (chin-up and wider grip). The pull-up in IT uses a narrower grip and a hollow-body position.

The pull
‘Exert force on (someone or something) so as to cause movement towards oneself’.[2] By using the pull you can move objects towards yourself in an array of movements. The pull can be done as a barbell row or for instance a chin-up.

  • The pull is an external torque (ET) based movement, this means you want to use the chain of muscles associated with this chain and will translate to your sympathetic nervous system.
  • Movements in which we recognize the pull are; barbell rows and chin-up. These exercises we regularly see in the strength section of our programming.

 

Internal Torque & External Torque

Both internal and external torque is discussed more in our StrongFit sessions and regular classes. We also organize seminars in which we discuss and practice these principles of movement.

 

[1] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/push

[2] https://www.google.nl/search?q=pull+definition&oq=pull+def&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.3190j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

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