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Fitness for Body, Mind and Spirit

GreenNote Life

Fitness for the body, mind & spirit

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Thoughtful Thursday….7 functional movement patterns for your training...

Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.


Fit and function. That phrase is what I have been focusing on for the past month and will be in the coming weeks. My newsletters and training sessions have been geared towards accomplishing just that - developing fit and functional human beings.

In the newsletter, Getting back to basics, we looked at what areas to cover such as endurance, cardiovascular fitness, strength, speed and power. Is there something more basic than that?


We are getting even more basic by looking at functional movement patterns essential for our fit and functional bodies. Proper movement is essential to our health and well-being. Master these movement patterns and you are well on your way to becoming fit and functional.

Let’s take a look at these 7 functional movement patterns!

Movement Pattern #1 - Squat

The squat is a natural human movement and is comparable to sitting in a chair. This sounds very basic and it is. I will often cue my clients to “set your butt back first”. This helps in getting the correct position of weight over the heels and proper tracking of knees ensuring they don’t go past the toes.

A common misconception is that you bend your knees first when squatting. When you do that it often juts your knees forward putting them too far forward leading to misalignment. Other issues that are common in squatting is not being able to keep the heels in contact with the floor at all times. Some possibilities include tight ankles or tight hip flexors. For help with tight muscles and proper squatting, check out this article by Katy Bowman.

Example Exercises:

  • Bodyweight Squat (for everyone, especially if you are new to this exercise)

  • Goblet Squat

  • Dumbbell Squat (weights can be by sides or by shoulders)

  • Barbell Back Squat (advanced)

  • Barbell Front Squat (advanced)

Movement Pattern #2 - Hinge

This movement pattern involves a hinging motion at the hip joint with little to no knee movement. It is initiated by a contraction of the glutes and hamstrings and spinal erectors to extend the hip. For hip hinge exercises think of it more as a pulling action as opposed to a push, like with a deadlift where you are “pulling” the weight off of the floor.

As Marc Perry explains: Bearing the brunt of the weight on your hips, glutes, and legs is the key to lifting weight in a bent over position. This is done by keeping your low back in a neutral, to slightly arched position, as you bend over to lift an object off the ground. If you round your back, significant pressure can be put on your intervertebral disks...

Example Exercises:

  • Romanian Deadlift (including variations i.e. single-leg Romanian Deadlift)

  • Kettlebell Swing

Movement Pattern #3 - Lunge

This movement pattern is vital as it has good transfer into walking, stair climbing, and picking things from the floor. A lunge is single leg exercise movement that requires one leg to step forward and bend while the other leg remains stationary. It’s a dynamic exercise because you can lunge in any direction with both legs forwards, backwards, and sideways.

Example Exercises:

  • Bench Step Up

  • Forward / Reverse / Side Lunge

  • Walking Lunge

Movement Pattern #4 - Push

Requires pushing external weight away from your body like in a bench press, or your center of mass away from the ground like in a push up. Other push movements extend overhead like in barbell strict press, moving the weight from the shoulders, extending the elbows until the weight is overhead.

Example Exercises:

  • Push up

  • Push-press (uses momentum from your legs to press an object overhead)

  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  • Dumbbell Incline Shoulder Press

Movement Pattern #5 - Pull

This movement includes moving a load or weight vertically in relation to the torso like with a pull-up. It also involves moving a load or weight towards the torso as in a horizontal pull like with a bent over row.

Example Exercises:

  • Lat Pull-Down

  • Plank Row

  • T-Bar Row

  • Seated Row

Movement Pattern #6 - Twist

This movement is a rotation or twisting motion. Resistance exercises can help develop both rotational strength and balance. This is done with both a rotational exercise like throwing a ball at the wall and with an anti-rotational exercise where the rotation movement is prevented as with a Palloff press or single-arm row.

Example Exercises:

  • Cable Wood Chops

  • Palloff Press

  • Ball throws against a wall (standing sideways)

Movement Patter #7 - Walking

A fundamental part of daily life involves walking. It is the most used of all the movement patterns. As with all movement patterns, proper movement or in this case, having a healthy gait is important. Think about adding in a long walk (or short ones) for your weekly routine. Use this time to connect with your body and be aware of how you are walking. Are you looking down at your feet or straight ahead? Are your shoulders rounded or are they back? Pay attention next time you go for a walk.

Implement these 7 functional movement exercises into your training and you will be well on your way to having a fit and functional body.

Enjoy your journey,

Lisa Schaffer

You wouldn’t happen to know just one person that would benefit from this information? Please forward it to them!

Did you miss last week’s newsletter on Restorative manual healing experience…?

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