Activities for Developing Basic Movement Patterns

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  • 0:04 Basic Movement Patterns
  • 1:23 Push and Pull
  • 2:17 Twists and Lunges
  • 3:09 Squatting, Gait, and Pressing
  • 4:24 Rotations and Hip Movements
  • 5:29 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we review activities that develop basic movement patterns. We discuss slow and fast movements and identify five common activities for developing nine of the patterns.

Basic Movement Patterns

Who isn't mesmerized by Summer Olympic gymnasts as they twirl and whirl through the air? There are literally thousands of movement patterns that the body can perform; however, these may be grouped into large categories known as basic movement patterns. While these patterns may be difficult to master, with patience, there do exist activities which can develop them. Five of the most common activities that develop basic movement patterns are weightlifting, yoga, team sports, running, and gymnastics, which we will refer to throughout the lesson.


Basic movement patterns are exercises grouped by the biomechanical demands of the human body. Now, like in exercise and dieting fields, there is much debate about what these basic movements comprise. However, most sports scientists agree that there are nine basic movement patterns.

Within these nine there are slow movements and fast movements. In essence, grinds tend to be slower, controlled movements. Ballistics tend to be quicker movements, often for higher repetitions. You should not attempt to do certain moves too quickly, or injury could result. For example, most heavy weightlifting moves should be done slowly and smoothly, lest a muscle tear occur. On the other hand, a gymnast needs to spin as quickly as possible in the air to avoid a fall or injury and finish the maneuver with a clean landing.

Push and Pull

Push exercises can be divided into horizontal and vertical pushes. An example of a horizontal push would be a standing chest press, which basically resembles a standing pushup. A vertical pushing movement in weightlifting would be the military press, which involves raising a barbell over the head. The arms begin close to the body and are then extended. You can develop the pushing of the arms technique by practicing the art of Tai Chi Chuan, which, like yoga, can incorporate several different types of basic movements together.

A pulling movement is just the opposite - horizontal and vertical pulls. The most common examples are pullups and rows. Rowing while seated, common in the team sport known as crew, would be a horizontal pull, and a pullup would be a vertical pull. The arms begin away from the body and then move close to the body during the motion. There are rowing machines at gyms that you can use for practicing the pull.


Twists and Lunges

There is a multitude of sports and activities that involve twisting. Twists are related to rotations. The discus, found in the team sport of track and field, is an example in which the athlete spins around many times to generate force and then hurtle the object far off into space. Many shotput athletes also use a spin technique, although some use a glide method. These are not sports for the average athlete, but you can practice twists by dancing (appropriately) the Twist at your local dance studio.

Lunges involve a bent flat-footed forward leg with a trailing back leg. They are a popular exercise movement in the fields of weightlifting and yoga. At first glance it would seem that, in the real world, the lunge is not considered a common, natural, everyday move. However, the muscles of the thighs and the glutes that are toned and strengthened by lunges are used for a myriad of day-to-day tasks.

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