Movement Patterns are the Best Way to Train!


Movement Patterns are the Best Way to Train!

This concept was hands down one of the most important things I learned in my career as a Coach and Programmer.

Thinking of training and programming in Movement Patterns instead of by Body Parts has given so much direction and clarity to everything we do in our training programs.

Movement Pattern programming is efficient. It focuses on big bang-for-your-buck movements while still allowing for less important exercises when time and energy permit.

The Patterns are Pushing, Pulling, Hip Dominant, Single Leg (Knee Dominant), and Core. Each has ideal exercises to be used to get the most benefit. Let’s dive into them!


Pushing movements are done in several different variations that involve one arm or both arms to perform the exercise and can be done in a Horizontal or Vertical Plane of motion.

A horizontal pushing exercise is any exercise that involves moving a weight straight out in front of you so that it’s going away from your torso horizontally(think bench press or push-ups).

A vertical pushing exercise is any exercise that involves moving a weight up vertically in relation to your torso so that it goes straight over head or at least in that direction (think shoulder press).

Each type of pushing exercise has amazing benefits for strength and injury prevention as well as fat loss!


A lot like the pushing movements pulling movements are done in the same planes of motion both horizontal and vertical.

For proper development of your back and posture you have to utilize pulling exercise in a big way especially if your life requires you to spend a lot of time sitting or on computers.

A horizontal pulling exercise is any exercise that involves moving a weight in towards your torso horizontally from straight out in front of you (think any Rowing motion you use).

A vertical pulling exercise is any exercise that involves moving a weight down vertically in relation to your torso so that you are pulling down from over head (think pull-ups or any grip variation).

I find that pulling in a weekly training plan more than pushing is very important for shoulder health and to improve posture/back pain.

Hip Dominant

Hip dominant exercises are one of the core things I love to use in programs. They typically allow the body to move the most significant amount of weight which means great things for you nervous system and full body strength.

A hip dominant exercise is any exercise where the primary mover is your hamstrings, glutes, or posterior chain as a whole (think deadlifts and squats).

Loaded or unloaded this movement pattern is one of the most important ones you should use!

Single Leg/Knee Dominant

When it comes to overall development of leg strength and knee health the knee dominant exercise is the King. We use these to help with hip imbalance, knee pain, and to work on leg strength without using significant load on the spine.

A Knee Dominant or Single Leg Exercise is any exercise where the primary movement is lower body single joint in nature and involves the quads, glutes, and hamstrings (Think lunges and box step ups).

Single leg movements are always in my programs and should be in any in my opinion to ensure the most well rounded approach.


Core exercises cannot and should not be overlooked. Old train of thought is that you didn’t have to do a ton of core training because it was so involved in many other movement patterns. However, I am here to tell you that you should train it.

Improving your Core reduces the risk for low back pain. Weak core muscles often lead to low back pain. Strong core muscles help you maintain correct posture and reduce strain on your spine during almost all task we do in training and life.

At the end of the day, you really are only as strong as your core will allow considering all the things we do in life in some nature travel through our core.

The types of core training we love are:

  1. Flexion/Extension: Any exercise where the purpose is to resist extension at the spine or take the torso through flexion and extension. (Deadbugs/ Slam balls/planks,situps)
  2. Anti-Rotation: Any exercise where the purpose is to resist rotation at the lumbar spine. (Paloff Press,Landmine Twists)
  3. Anti-Lateral Flexion: Any exercise where the purpose is to resist lateral flexion (sideways bending) at the spine. (Any type of farmer or object carry)

It is important to note that some exercises fall into multiple categories, while others are clear cut in terms of specific movement requirements.

Training your core (As we do a lot) is a great way to ensure you will reduce your risk of injury and continue to progress in your training.


Training in movement patterns gives the best way to approach your training. If your goal is fitness then this cannot be overlooked.

Simply putting one exercise from every movement pattern and doing it 3-4 days per week will give you a better approach to working out then almost every other program can provide.

I love to split them up and train different patterns daily because it allows me to a fun approach to training without over training one particular body part.

Although it is out the scope of this article you can also group movement patterns into sections of the body. As an example Push and Pulling could be group into a Upper Body Day. Hip and Knee dominant training could be grouped into a Lower Body Day. You could also add core to any one of those days and leave you with an opportunity to train in higher frequency of movement patterns which leads to better results.

Hope you enjoyed this article. It was an amazing shift of perspective for me to look at training and I hope it is for you too!

Written by:

Coach Cody Smith


Movement Patterns:

Workout Splits:

Core Training: