The 7 moves we should all be doing correctly

The 7 moves we should all be doing correctly

As my class members know, I am always doing training courses or online workshops, as, I feel its so important as an Instructor to continue to improve my knowledge of our bodies and the latest research into body movements and incorporate that research into my teaching plans.

In one of my latest courses I came across the term “Primal Movements” and was intrigued to learn some more and it turns out there is a whole school of leaning around this term.

Primal Pattern ® Movements Definition: A movement pattern required for survival in our developmental environment. They are sometimes referred to as a “root pattern.” The Primal Pattern® Movement system was developed by Paul Chek by combining the research in the fields of motor control and motor learning with his own clinical experience.

However, the idea of “Primal Moves” and the idea of “functional movement” are not new – in fact, they have been around for over twenty-five years, and as a result they have become so infiltrated into the fitness industry, that for many us, they are the norm without many of us actual knowing where they originated from. So much so, that many of us in the fitness industry include the “primal moves” and idea of “functional movement” without really even thinking about it as they have become such an integral and normal approach to exercise for many of us.

There are seven Primal Pattern® Movements, yet, the fancy name of ‘primal movement’ makes it sound harder than it is. As, Primal patterns are used to describe the movement patterns our ancestors used while hunting, gathering and building and the reality is that most of us will be doing these moves without even thinking about it day to day. Certainly, within my Pilates classes I aim to include all of these movements every time. So, what are they? They are to lunge, push, pull, squat, bend, twist and gait (walking/running)

1. (Squat)

What is it: The squat is one of the best exercises to strengthen your glutes (Bum), front (quads) and back (hamstrings) of the legs.  Most of us squat all day long and do not even realize it.  Every time you sit down you are squatting…well, almost.  When you do an actual squat, you don’t sit back on anything.  You sit back and put the weight of your body in your heals and when you feel you cannot go any lower you come up –

Pilates moves: We do lots of variations on the squat in class – but for home – the easiest and safest is the one described above.

Everyday uses:

It gets you in and out of a chair

It helps you when you bend to pick your shopping up or anything heavy

When you pick the children/babies up

When you are gardening

It helps with your balance and coordination for everyday life.


What is it: A push-up is just a plank in motion.  Start on your knees.  Trying doing as many as you can and then add in at least one more push-up each week.  When you can 10-15 of these with ease on your knees, try moving to your toes. To start with think about bringing your elbows under / tucked into your body (like chicken wings) & not out to the side. This is a great chest and core exercise.

Pilates Moves: Push Up – triceps/bicep, Prone and supine leg pulls – side plank etc

Everyday uses: Pushing a trolley, pram, pushing yourself back up to standing from the floor, closing your car door. Pushing the kids on the swing– you get the idea

3.The Lunge.  I love lunging.  You can do it forward, backward, static, walking, lateral, the list goes on and on.  The lunge is a great butt and leg shaper.  Think of lunging like exaggerated walking. Lunges work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and core muscles.

Place your right foot forward and left leg behind you – and let the left foot come up on to your toes  – then you think about bending the left knee towards the floor  – the right knee (leg in front) will move but it shouldn’t move very much ( knee should NOT come over toes) as most of the effort comes from the back ( left leg ) and you mustn’t let your upper body lean forward as you bend your knee – you want your upper body to stay upright and not move at all as you bend ( this is to protect the knee joint)  Also, it’s not important to come down very far – just a little movement at first and work up to increasing the distance you can bend your back knee. If you feel unbalanced – hold onto a chair or wall when you do this move until your balanced is improved. (and remember to swap and do the other leg too )

Pilates Moves: Again, we do a wide variation off the Lunge in class – but in my experience, it is the exercise that people tend to do wrong the most and definitely one for people to practice at home.

Everyday uses:  – helps walk up the stairs, walking running – if you bend forward to pick something up etc.  They can also help to improve your balance and coordination.

4.(Pull) Within exercise there are a variety of ways to achieve a pull – the classic is the Pull up.  The pull up is great for your back and arms.  If you can’t do a full pull up on your own then either use an assist machine or use a Lat pull down machine. However, like we do in Pilates you can use bands to generate a pull. For the purposes of an easy to do Pull exercise at home, here are 3 simple ones to do with a band.

Pilates Moves – Although not listed in the classic 34 Pilates exercises – I often use the resistance bands and add in Bicep curls, lat pulls ( a pull of the band across your chest) bear hugs, and don’t forget leg pulls – once again using the band, you can create both push and pull moves using your legs as well as arms.

Everyday uses:   We use the pull action in so many ways, closing doors, lifting something up and towards us, pulling something off a shelf, closing a window, pulling a suitcase behind us, pulling on and off socks and clothes and shoes and it goes it on, opening the garage door.


5.(Bend) The dead lift, straight leg dead lift, or bent over row would work here.  The bend is great for core stability, back and leg strength. –

But the Spine stretch forward is a great one to do at home. Sitting on the floor, with your legs hip width apart and sitting up nice and tall, arms held straight out in line with your shoulders, palms facing each other. Begin to bend forward by drawing your tummy backwards towards your spine, the aim is not to touch your head to your knees but rather to stretch and lengthen your spine forward as if your trying to pass something to someone in front.

Pilates Moves: we do a lot of bending moves in Pilates – to name just a few, roll down/ spine stretch forward, the saw, roll up, roll over, rolling like a ball.

Everyday Moves – There are so many ways in which we bend in everyday life – to sit – to pick something up off the floor – to lean to the side or back, our elbows, wrists, ankles fingers – knees all bend our necks. Have a think about our much you bend tomorrow as you go about your daily life and then think how am I bending??


6.(Twist) The twist is any rotational movement.  A Lunge with rotation, row with rotation, press with rotation, any throwing, swinging or batting move.  Twist moves done correctly are great for the core, the low back, hips and butt. The seated waist rotation is a great everyday exercise, however, the key with this exercise is that nothing else moves apart from your waist -legs and hips stay where they are – your shoulders and arms will move but ONLY because the waist is moving and they are moving with the waist. The imagery I use in class is that you have a sheet of glass between your pelvis and torso & think about your torso sliding side to side on that sheet of glass.

Pilates Moves – Thread the needle in kneeling position, the side plank with a twist/ seated or standing waist rotation. Criss-cross (Oblique curl up)

Everyday Moves: getting in and out of the car, turning back to look at someone or something, to pick something up behind us, filling and unloading the washing machine, hoovering, doing the shopping, getting things out of the cupboard etc.

 7.(Gait) This is your body moving in motion by leg action.  Gait includes walking, running or sprinting.  Gait is what keeps your cardiovascular system in check, helps burn fat and keeps you breathing right.

Pilates Moves: Although, we don’t run, or sprint within a Pilates class itself, we certainly do lots of work, through most of the moves we do, which works on ways to realign your gait and train your body to recruit the right muscle for the work you are asking it to do.

So, there you have it, the 7 “Primal moves” we should all be doing, however, now you know the moves, the real question is, are you doing these moves correctly? As this is where the importance of breath and correct alignment come in – sounds like we are back in a Pilates class doesn’t it, – you start with the basics – re-teach your body to move in the correct way and to utilise your breath in the correct way whilst doing these moves and boom you’ve got a recipe for a healthy body that will support you through all the trials of life.

And this is where I believe I come in, as when you come to one of my Pilates class I will teach you how to do each exercise correctly, utilising the correct body alignment, use your breath correctly in each move and train your body to do all of this together and work towards it all becoming an unconscious and natural process for you.

Although, just a note to finish, I’m aware that not everyone wants to do Pilates (although I’m not sure why not as I think it’s AMAZING : ) – but, if it’s not for you, then do at least think about the exercise you do choose to do and think does it include these seven “primal moves”. As, in order to keep your body strong, lean and functional, EVERY workout you perform should contain some, if not all, of these primal patterns.

Happy exercising.

Lou xxxxx


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