What a decade of teaching others how to lift has taught me

To achieve unparalleled strength and move with the agility of a well-trained athlete, integrating these eight movements into your weekly strength training regimen is non-negotiable. Each movement targets key areas of the body, ensuring comprehensive development and functional balance.

1. Squat – The Ultimate Full-Body Movement

The squat, in its various forms, is not just a leg exercise; it’s a full-body endeavor that engages the core, back, and shoulders. It’s the bedrock of functional fitness, improving mobility and strength simultaneously1.

2. Lunge – Mastering Unilateral Movement

Lunges, including split squat variations, are pivotal for unilateral strength. They correct imbalances and enhance stability by engaging the muscles differently on each side of the body, which is crucial for overall muscular balance2.

3. Hinge – The Key to Quality Movement

Hinging movements, epitomized by the deadlift and its variations, activate the posterior chain – the back, glutes, and hamstrings. This movement is fundamental to lifting safely and effectively, promoting hip mobility and lower back health3.

4. Press Horizontally – Bench Press and Beyond

Horizontal pressing, primarily through bench presses and push-ups, focuses on the chest, shoulders, and triceps. A diversified approach to pressing movements prevents overuse injuries and ensures comprehensive upper body strength4.

5. Press Vertically – Elevating Overhead Strength

Vertical pressing movements, like shoulder presses, advance overhead strength and mobility. They’re essential for shoulder health, improving range of motion and stabilizing the shoulder girdle5.

6. Pull Horizontally – The Counterbalance to Pressing

Horizontal pulling movements, such as rows, counteract the pressing motions to maintain muscular balance. Adhering to a 3-to-1 pull-to-press ratio safeguards against muscle imbalances and enhances postural integrity6.

7. Pull Vertically – Uplifting Back and Arm Strength

Vertical pulls, exemplified by pull-ups, target the upper back and arms. These exercises complement horizontal pulls, further contributing to a well-rounded upper body strength profile7.

8. Carry – Core Stability and Conditioning

Carrying exercises, like the farmer’s carry, test your endurance, grip strength, and core stability. They replicate real-world activities, fortifying the body against injuries and enhancing functional movement patterns8.


Incorporating these eight foundational movements into your training routine ensures a well-balanced approach to strength and conditioning. Tailoring the intensity and volume to your current fitness level allows for consistent progress and minimizes the risk of injury. Remember, the quality of movement trumps quantity every time. Strive for mastery in these exercises, and you’ll build a body that’s not only aesthetically pleasing but supremely functional and strong.