When strength training, it can be difficult to decide which exercises to incorporate into your workout routine. In his book Functional Training, JC Santana explains why we should incorporate the 5 Pillars of Human Movement into our workouts. These Pillars enable us to move better in our activities of daily living and sports. He explains that human movement can be broken down into 5 basic categories, Locomotion, Level Changes, Push, Pull and Rotation.  

5 Pillars of Human Movement:

1 – Locomotion

We need to be able to move our bodies through space. Locomotion is the foundation for human movement and involves walking, running, skipping, jumping, and shuffling and is of great importance to our overall health. It is a component of most sports, and its absence greatly impacts the quality of our life and our longevity. Cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running, jumping, shuffling and skipping drills will enhance this function as well as strength/power exercises like resisted sled walks and walking lunges. 

2 – Level Changes

The 2nd Pillar involves the ability to raise and lower our body weight against gravity. Losing this ability dramatically impacts your daily function. If you do not have the strength to raise and lower your body weight, you cannot climb stairs efficiently, get up from a chair or toilet unassisted, pick something up off the floor, step off a curb safely, get yourself up from the floor, and/or jump. Exercises that will enhance this function include squats, lunges, step-ups deadlifts and jumping drills. 

3 – Pulling

The 3rd Pillar involves the action of pulling used for picking things up off the floor, opening doors, pulling items into our bodies, and carrying objects. You can enhance this function by including exercises such as rows and pull ups.

4 – Pushing

The 4th Pillar is used to push against an opponent in sports, to be able to defend ourselves, to push against an object, wall, or door, or to push against the floor to raise from the ground. Exercises to improve this ability include pushups, chest press or overhead shoulder press. 

5 – Rotation

The final Pillar, and often considered the most important, is rotation. All powerful activities such as throwing, kicking, punching and even linear movements like running are possible because of rotation. Exercises to improve this ability include Lateral Medicine Ball Tosses, Wood Chop Squats, and Torso rotation with tube/pulleys.

Using the 5 Pillars of Human Movement as a guide to designing your workout routine will assure that you address the most important functions of your body. This is true whether you are an elite level athlete, a weekend warrior, or a grandparent. 

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at nwpersonaltraining.com.

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