6 Foundational Moves That Every Beginner Must Master


Summer has officially ended and that means people are starting to slowly hit the gym again. Instead of being that guy who googles the latest routine to see what is trendy, you are going to train smart. The following are 6 moves that every beginner( although every person should do) must master to see true results.

6 Essential Moves To Master

If you want to be strong, athletic, and live longer, you must learn how to train your body the way it was designed to move. That means spending less time on bicep curls and more time with moves like squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, and carries.

In order to maximize your performance, you need to choose the right movement pattern for your body type and experience in the gym.

1. The Squat

The squat is the king of all lower body exercises. It’s a move that everyone should so, but many of us have lost our ability to squat due to the demands of everyday life.

But, not everyone should squat with a bar or ass to grass. The key to a good squat is finding the right variation and position that best suits your goals and body type.

Wondering where to start?

Squat Matrix

I wrote an awesome post that breakdowns the different variations from beginner to advanced here.

2. Hinge 

If you want to build a stronger lower back and hips, the hinge is the most important exercise you should do.

In fact, lots of people neglect the movement because they are afraid of hurting their back. But, I’m here to tell you that not working the hinge pattern into your training is actually causing you more harm than good.

What type of hinging should you be doing?

There are many types of hinging exercises, and if you have never trained this movement before, try the following moves to groove the pattern and get a good understanding of where you are at.


  1. Pull through Variations
  2. KB Or Landmine Deadlift
  3. Double Kettlebell Deadlift
  4. Trap Bar Deadlift
  5. Sumo/Conventional Deadlift

3. Single Leg Patterning

More often than not, single leg moves are butchered in the gym. Not to mention, they are not fun or sexy so many people will leave them out.

But single leg moves like lunges and step-ups can unlock strength and movement quality. They also carry over to everyday activities like walking, running, and climbing the stairs.

So where should one begin?

Don’t make the mistake of jumping right into walking lunges. Instead, work your way from in place with moves like split squats. After a few weeks with sets of 8-12 reps in place, transition into a reverse lunge.

The key is to TAKE IT SLOW or you can end up causing more harm than good.

  1. Counterbalance (TRX, band or squat rack/wall)
  2. ISOs or Tempo
  3. Stationary
  4. Dynamic
  5. Moving object’s COM
  6. Bars

4.  Pushing Patterns 

It appears that the longer I spend in a gym, the more I realize how many people love to bench press.  While the barbell bench press is a great exercise, it is not for everyone.

The barbell bench press is actually an advanced move, and the skill needed to stabilize the shoulder through the entire range of motion requires a good understanding of body awareness. 

Check out this series of progressions you should master before moving to a bar.

Horizontal Pressing

  1. Elevated Pushup
  2. Eccentric ( Lower Down Slow)
  3. Pushup
  4. Dumbbell Pressing
  5. Barbell Pressing
Vertical/Diagonal  Pressing

  1. Landmine Presses
  2. Kettlebell Presses
  3. Dumbbell Presses
  4. Barbell Presses

5. Pulling Patterns 

Pull-ups are one of my favorite patterns to train but also happens to be misunderstood by many people across the gym.

If you want to train long term, you need to understand that not all pulling patterns are created equal mastering the pull pattern from a horizontal position rather than a vertical position will allow you to take full advantage of the stabilizers required to develop a stronger back.

Check out the following pulling progressions. Once you start to develop confidence around your pulling patterns, it is best to think of a 2:1 pulling ratio with an emphasis on horizontal pulling.

  1. Chest Supported Row
  2. Inverted Row
  3. 1 Arm Rows
  4. Barbell Rows
Vertical Pulling
  1. Assisted Pull-ups
  2. Pull-ups

6. Loaded Carries 

If you truly want to build a stronger body loaded carries are the way to go. Not only do loaded carries have a huge relation to everyday strength (carrying groceries, suitcases, babies, picking up heavy boxes), they target the entire body and really give you an idea of how much body awareness you have.

But that does not mean you should jump right into carrying heavier things, you must strategically train your body to develop strength over time. Check out some of my favorite loaded carry variations.

  1. Goblet Carry
  2. 2 Arm Farmers Walk
  3. 1 Arm Farmers Walk
  4. Double Rack Carry
  5. Cross Body Carry

Go Get After it

If you are serious about your health and fitness and want to see great results, try using some of these movements in your next training sessions for a few weeks and let me know how you feel.

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