What does it mean to get “primal” in our movements?
While the word primal might bring up images of cavemen, in the fitness word, this word simply relates to foundational and functional movement patterns.
Integrating this style of movement into your regime has an immeasurable amount of benefits, so I wanted to go deeper into the topic here!
So, let’s get primal.
What Are Primal Movements?
Primal movements are foundational movement patterns that humans have been practicing since, well … the dawn of humans! If you’ve ever heard of primal movements, you may be familiar with the “7 Primal Movement Patterns,” which include:
• The Squat
• The Lunge
• Twisting (core)
• Locomotion (jogging/walking/etc…)
Now of course, most of us have done every single one of these movements, whether it was during a workout or not.
The key with truly practicing primal movements, however, is to focus on combining them. For an example-in-action, check out this video:
As you can see, every movement contains within it a primal pattern. When we move through these patterns without isolating them, we move in tune with nature and holistically build our bodies. This is another reason functional workout methods have exploded in popularity in recent years: isolating muscles and movements can be beneficial for building strength in that particular muscle, but it doesn’t help to build overall strength, agility, flexibility, explosive power, and other markers of holistic fitness.
Why Try Primal Movements
Have you ever watched an infant or toddler move? You likely noticed how flexible they were, and how many variations of movements they are able to perform with ease. This is because they are constantly flowing through the basic movement patterns, which keeps them flexible as they grow.
As adults, we become conditioned to performing only a specific set of movements, since we’re rarely crawling on the ground and willfully bending in certain poses. This creates less range of mobility in our muscles and joints, leading to stiffness and less efficient movements. It’s also why even yoga can feel difficult for us as beginners: we’re no longer accustomed to twisting and bending in all of the ways the human body is designed to.
When you begin to practice primal movements, you also strengthen your entire core by engaging in rotational (twisting) movements. Instead of only working your frontal abs and obliques, you target the entire corset of muscles running along your back and your sides. This aids in developing massive stability AND flexibility, which can help you push more weight and master movements that require balance and agility.
Primal movements also combine aerobic (locomotion) with strength and mobility moves, leading to the ultimate synthesis of fitness. This enhances coordination abilities, since you’re training your body to engage in several types of movement patterns at once, rather than isolating them. Here you increase your range of motion and stamina simultaneously, leading to better performance in and out of the gym.
And we can’t forget one of the most important things: primal movements are FUN! In a way, they are reminiscent of dancing, as one movement flows into the other. They are also similar to Eastern styles of movement, like Qigong, and even martial arts. As the mind is connected to the body, these styles of movement also encourage fluidity and decompression of thought, which is why they are utilized in meditative physical practices like Qigong.
Try out the video above a couple times a week, or even develop your own (or freestyle!) primal movement sequence. You’ll likely notice how great you feel afterward – almost like you’ve had a full-body massage!