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These are the foundational strength movements everyone should know

At Nathan DeMetz Personal Training, we consider three strength-based movements to be essential and therefore foundational movements to any program we create. These movements are:

  • The squat

  • The hip hinge

  • The overhead press

Why are these foundational movements?

The squat, hip hinge, and overhead press collectively work all the muscles in the body and enable a person to perform any other movement he or she may need to during daily activities. For example, if you squat down to look at something with a low viewpoint, you just use the squatting movement. If you bend over, pick something up, and then place it on a shelf overhead, you just performed the hip-hinge and overhead press movements.

Building strength and endurance in these movements transfers over into every other activity as well. For example, if you build lower-body, posterior chain, and core strength from the squat and hip-hinge, every movement that uses the muscles that comprise these groups will benefit as a result. For example, if you increase your lower muscular ability, you'll be able to stand longer, walk further, push objects (e.g. a loaded cart, a car, etc.) longer, and just overall perform better using the associated muscle groups.

On top of that, engaging in the squat, hip-hinge, and overhead press helps improve mobility. If you have stiff hips and tight quads, squatting helps stretch out these tissues. Properly applied, the squat will improve mobility of tendons, ligaments, and muscles in the hips, knees, ankles, quads, glutes, lower back, and hamstrings. The hip-hinge helps increased mobility of the entire posterior chain (i.e. back side of the body) while the overhead press helps improve mobility in the should complex, upper back, and arms.

There are many variations of the foundational movements

When we talk about squatting, hip-hinging, and overhead pressing, we're not talking about just three movements and possible exercises. For each category—that is, squatting, hip-hinging, and overhead pressing—there are various exercises or movements that can be performed.

Squatting variations

  • Air squat

  • Barbell back squat

  • Dumbbell front squat

  • Barbell overhead squat

  • Kettlebell squat

  • Zercher squat

  • Hack squat

  • Machine squat

  • And more

Hip-hinge variations

  • Barbell deadlift

  • Barbell good morning

  • Hyperextension

  • GHD machine

  • Barbell Romanian deadlifts

  • Straight-leg dumbbell deadlift

  • And more

Overhead press variations

  • Overhead barbell press

  • Overhead kettlebell press

  • Dumbbell push-press

  • Barbell push-jerk

  • Barbell half-press

  • Handstand push-up

  • And more

Regardless of your ability, exercise preferences, or other variables, there is an exercise in each category that you can perform.

These are the basics

We're not saying these are the only movements you should perform; we're stating that these are the minimum types of movements you should perform. If you want to bench press, great. If you like kettlebell swings, awesome. Just be sure to include a squat, hip-hinge, and overhead press movement in your workout program.

Also, understand these are just the basic strength movements you should perform, but cardio and mobility work are important as well.

If you want to learn more about our services, visit the homepage for our site here: We offer a variety of services for training and nutrition. Just visit the page, read the write-up, and visit the links to the service pages to learn more and sign-up.

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Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, and the International Sports Sciences Association. Nathan has 17 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.

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