Monday, 3 January 2011

The Seven Basic Human Movement Patterns

In this article I’ll be discussing the concept of Planes of Motion and human movement patterns. We’ll look at how this theory can be used to make you a better athlete and fix weak points in your physical game. As always, take the time to try out some of the suggestions and draw your own conclusions.

“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers”

                                                                                                        Anthony Robbins

How are Strength and Conditioning programmes constructed?

In my experience MMA strength and conditioning programmes are normally constructed in one of the following ways:

  • By following the training programme of another athlete or one recommended by a coach
  • By performing exercises ‘known’ to produce results
  • Choosing exercises that are similar to movements in MMA
  • Guesswork

These can all be very successful ways to formulate a programme but I believe that the most effective programmes are built around the individual. The purpose of this article is to introduce you to some different ways in which you may develop or adapt your own strength and conditioning programme.

Movement Planes and MMA

In Biomechanics we talk about movement planes (direction of movement) and how they relate to sport/human movement. Exercise, skills and daily tasks can all be categorised into one of three movement planes or a combination thereof. Why is this important? Well, if your strength and conditioning programme consists of movements through one plane and competition requires that you move in another plane then we can assume it may cause some problems due to lack of conditioning/function.

The movement planes are classed as Sagittal, Horizontal/Transverse and Frontal. The planes of motion are best thought of as an invisible wall that you would pass through during a certain movement (some people imagine a sheet of glass).

Including movements through all three planes is important as most athletic movements occur this way. Take a look at your current training programme – does it have movements/exercises that occur through multiple planes of motion (multi-planar)?

The Seven Basic Human Movements

Now that we are aware of the planes of motion we can also consider the concept of the seven basic human movements. It has been proposed that natural and functional human movement can be categorised into basic patterns. What are they?

  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Bend
  • Twist
  • Gait (walking)

You may have even followed programmes that touched on this concept – the push/pull routine in weight training is probably the most common example. The theory states that even complex movements can be categorised this way. So, if a person were competent in all seven movement patterns would they ultimately be a better athlete? It is certainly an interesting theory.

At low levels we could examine individual patterns for improvement but it is important to realise that nearly all athletic ability would require competence in multiple movement patterns. Indeed, it is a useful way to examine the complexity of an individual exercise or skill. If you’ve ever tried to master some of the Olympic lifts you’ll appreciate the following example:

Clean and Jerk (split) = Bend, Pull, Squat, Push, Lunge.

So, this theory also states that athletic ability can be improved by not only being competent at the individual movements but at combinations of them.

Weak Point Analysis and Correction

Following the concept of human movement patterns you can begin to analyse your strength and conditioning programme:

  • Do I regularly perform movements from each of the patterns?
  • Are there techniques/skills that I struggle to learn/perform? Can these be attributed to a movement pattern weakness?
  • Does my existing programme overly favour a particular movement pattern? How useful is this movement pattern in relation to the demands of MMA?

My advice would be to look at your existing strength and conditioning programme and ask yourself the questions above. Consider your own strength and weaknesses and use movement pattern analysis as a framework to make some changes if necessary. But remember, the analysis should always be based on you and your current goals.

If you have any specific questions on Olympic lifting, Strength & Conditioning for MMA or you’d like to discuss workshops, professional fighter coaching or a review of your current programme feel free to get in touch.

Originally published on BritMMA


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