7 Essential Functional Movement Exercises

7 Essential Functional Movement Exercises

Last week we discussed the importance of fundamental movements, and as promised, this week we will discuss seven essential functional movement exercises. Each movement highlights a different component of the body and offers a variety of exercises that focus on the motion. Let’s strip things back to the basics to take a look at these movements. It is important to remember that the movement takes priority over the amount of weight you use, therefore it is important to learn the movement first, and then slowly progress to weighted or barbell variations.

Hip Hinge

Hip hinges are functional movement exercises that involve a hinging motion at the hip joint. These movements contract the hip extensors (glutes and hamstrings) and tend to be more of a pulling action versus a push. Example hip hinge exercises include Stiff-Legged Deadlifts, Kettlebell Swings, and Hyperextensions.

Vertical Push

Vertical push movements primarily work the shoulders, helping you push weight above your head. Common vertical pushing exercises include the Overhead Press, Lateral Raise, and Handstand Pushups.

Horizontal Push

Horizontal pushing exercises help you move weight away from you. This movement pattern is used to push boxes, resist horizontal force, or to punch. Horizontal push functional movement exercises often include Pushups, Bench Press, or Military Press.

Vertical Pull

Vertical pulling exercises involve moving weight down vertically in relation to your torso so that you are pulling down from over your head. Examples of vertical pulling movements are Pullups, Chin-ups, and Lat Pull-Downs.

Horizontal Pull

Horizontal pull exercises comprise of movements that bring weight in towards your torso horizontally from straight out in front of you. Typical horizontal pull exercises are Bent Over Rows, Seated Cable Rows or T-Bar Rows.


Strong core muscles are necessary to stabilize your body during movement, and for proper posture and body alignment. Rotation, or twisting, exercises include Wood Chops, Rotational Lunges, or Medicine Ball Throws.


We walk every day, but how often do you pay attention to your posture while you walk? In improving your gait, awareness is half the battle. While you’re walking for fitness, or simply to get from to and fro throughout your day, make a note to keep your shoulders back, chest up, and feet pointed forward with each step. By consciously thinking about your gait while you walk, you will improve your gait to the point that you won’t have to consciously think about it as you run or play sports, therefore making it second nature.

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