The 7 Movements you need to Master - Part 1: Push and Pull

Human movement is complex. We can move in multiple planes, with extremely complex joint kinematics, or produce high forces at stunning velocities. Despite the inherent complexities of human movement, most movements can be broken down and contain aspects of 7 fundamental archetypes. These are:

  1. Push/Press
  2. Pull/Row
  3. Lunge
  4. Squat
  5. Hinge
  6. Twist/Rotation
  7. Gait

Today we focus on the first two fundamental patterns: The Push and the Pull.

1. Push/Press

As it sounds, the first fundamental movement pattern in the push or the press. This includes any type of upper body pressing motion. This can include a bench press, military press, push up... you name a press and it is in there. During a pressing movement the joint angles increase. To visualize this, imagine your elbow during a bench press. At the bottom of the press the joint angle of your elbow is closed, and therefor smaller than at the top.


2. Pull/Row

The pull is the partner of the press. Upper body movement such as the pull-up, the row, biceps-curls (yes, even curls) are pulling movements. During pulling movements your joint angles will decrease (such as the elbow during a biceps curl.


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The fundamental aspects of both the pull and the press are extremely similar, despite being opposite movements.

Here are the fundamental aspects:

  1. Keep your forearms parallel with the force application
  2. Keep you body still throughout the press by squeezing your glutes, tightening your abs
  3. Grip the training implement as tightly as possible
  4. Initiate the movements with your shoulders, not your elbow
  5. Keep your wrist neutral (**note there are some exceptions to this rule, but this remains true in 90% of lifts)



B.Kin, Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology

Author: Mark Murdoch, Kinesiologist, Chiropractic Student. Have questions? Email me. I want to help!