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FUNctional Strength Training - Seven Functional Movement Patterns

Below are examples of the seven functional movement patterns with beginner, intermediate and advanced suggestions. If you are interested to find out more beyond this article, join me on November 16, 2022 at 10:30am when you will have an opportunity to practice functional movements using the PCC’s equipment or please contact Martine Larson ( to schedule a session with one of our personal trainers.


You are squatting when you change vertical levels with both feet on the ground – e.g. getting in and out of a chair, a car or on/off the toilet. The squatting pattern requires flexion and extension of the ankles, knees and hips to lower you down and then drive you back up.

  • Beginner - Squat press machine

  • Intermediate - Air squat or TRX squat

  • Advanced - Split squat or squat jump


A lunge is a moving squat, and it requires more dynamic balance and control because it trains one leg at a time versus both simultaneously. Training a forward lunge with just your bodyweight allows you to perfect your lateral stability, balance, and control without added resistance.

  • Beginner - Stationary lunge (up/down)

  • Intermediate - TRX reverse or forward lunge

  • Advanced - Walking lunge, lateral lunge or curtsy lunge


Every time you bend over to pick up the newspaper or pet your dog, you are hinging at the hips, also known as a deadlift. The hinge is an underused functional movement pattern when lifting heavy things because we tend to “lift with our legs.” However if you have a strong core, hinging is a safer movement pattern because you have far more muscles attached to the back of your legs than to the front. These muscles are perfectly positioned to raise your torso like a drawbridge.

  • Beginner - Bridge

  • Intermediate - Romanian deadlift or kettlebell swing

  • Advanced - Single-leg deadlift or kettlebell clean


The upper body has two types of movement patterns: pushing something away from the torso or pulling it closer. Push and pull are further divided into two more categories: vertical and horizontal. Because pushing and pulling are functional opposites, the key is to program them to create a balance in your up-and-down and front-to-back strength.

Horizontal Push

  • Beginner - Cable press (high and low)

  • Intermediate - Flat/incline/decline bench press

  • Advanced - Push-up (optional incline or decline)

Horizontal Pull

  • Beginner - Seated cable row

  • Intermediate - Single leg bent-over row

  • Advanced - Renegade row

Vertical Push

  • Beginner - Overhead shoulder press Intermediate - Squat to overhead press

  • Advanced - Kettlebell windmill

Vertical Pull

  • Beginner - Lat pulldown

  • Intermediate - Assisted pull-up/chin-up or scapular pushup

  • Advanced - Pull-up/chin-up or ctive bar hang


Groceries, paint cans, weights — getting them from point A to point B requires dynamic stability. With a carry, you will feel a full body stiffness as you walk with your arms and legs moving in opposition.

  • Beginner - Farmer’s walk or suitcase carry

  • Intermediate - Waiter’s walk or overhead walking lunge

  • Advanced - Unilateral sandbag carry or racked carry


Throwing, swinging, kicking, hitting, and swimming all involve rotation. Rotation enables the transfer of power from your legs to your arms through your core. This pattern requires head-to-toe stability and teaches your body to work as a single unit rather than as separate halves.

  • Beginner - Cable/band rotation or woodchopper

  • Intermediate - Plank to side plank

  • Advanced - Oblique medicine-ball toss or hook punch

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