Why do we train the 9 foundational movements?

Why do we train the 9 foundational movements?
-Clark Hibbs

When we’re working in the CrossFit methodology (which is, ya know, what we do here), there are 9 fundamental and foundational movements that we base everything off of. These movements are not only functional in nature, but also applicable to many of the other movements that we learn throughout our journey to further our work capacity and fitness.

We train these movements so we can tap into our primal beings, and be a strong, independent, and healthy individual.

Wait… did I say primal? Yes! We’re going back to our instincts as mammals with these movements!

Stay with me here…

The 9 movements in question:
-Air Squat
-Front Squat
-Overhead Squat
-Strict Press
-Push Press
-Push Jerk
-Sumo Deadlift High Pull
-Medicine Ball Clean

(Link to a YouTube playlist of all these movements at the bottom of this post!)

We can break these 9 foundational movements into 3 different groups that mimic the primal movement patterns: squats, presses, and hip hinges.

And that’s REALLY what we need to focus in on… those primal movement patterns.

I like coming back to the word *primal* because it evokes certain animalistic instincts in us. Generations upon generations have been living and surviving utilizing these movement patterns… but it wasn’t until we started to sit more, move less, and have greater conveniences in our lives that we started losing out on these basic, primal movement patterns.

We no longer need to hunt, run, gather, squat by the fire to cook, and/or fight for our food. We spend 10 minutes on our phones, then go sit in the car while someone else loads up the groceries in front of the grocery store. Then we get home, pop it into the Instant Pot, and voila, dinner is served.

Not exactly tracking and chasing down animals to feed the settlement, is it now?

The conveniences are great… but it’s come at a cost. For many of us, that cost is our movement vitality. It’s tough to squat. We groan anytime we have to pick something up off of the ground. We have chronic lower back pain. We shy away at the thought of having to walk more than a mile (call the über!).

By training these primal patterns, specifically through the 9 fundamental movements and their variations at a high intensity, we can tap back into that vitality.

While you won’t see a random barbell in every day life to pick up and train, you WILL see these movements at some point each day.

Did you pick up a bag this morning? Deadlift.
Ever played with your kid and throw them up into the air? Push press.
Ever pull a heavy trash bag out of the garbage with both arms? That’s a high pull (from the sumo deadlift high pull).

Think about what you’ve done today until you read this…. have you done something that’s exhibited a primal movement pattern? You definitely, definitely have. If you sat on the toilet today, congratulations, you did a squat!

Granted, we don’t perform the *exact* fundamental movements in everyday life to the T. I mean, have you ever seen someone do an overhead squat in the grocery store? No, but you HAVE seen someone reach for something on the top shelf, and then have to support that load as they bring it down safely to a carry position. By training the overhead squat movement pattern, we build over head strength, shoulder stability, midline stability, and the ability to move a load while remaining safe.

Boom. The overhead squat prevents grocery store injuries and mishaps!

That’s just one example. I could go on with those examples for many, many more words, but if you think about it and start to observe movement in every day life, I think you’ll see why these patterns and the fundamental movements are so important.

We train the primal movement patterns in the gym so we can be safe and effective in everyday life.

We train them so we can be strong.
We train them so we can be healthy.
We train them so we can play with our kids.
We train them so we can be more useful at work.
We train them so we can have FUN.
We train them so we can do whatever needs to be done.

But most importantly?

We train them so we can live long, healthy, and happy lives.

So the next time you’re in the gym and we train a movement you aren’t particularly fond of, don’t be like 7th grade me in geometry thinking, “What the hell is the point of this? I’ll never use it.”

Instead, start to see the value of how this can carry over into your every day life. Don’t train just to get it done. Train so you can live, and live well.

-Clark Hibbs

Here’s that playlist! 9 Foundational Movements


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