Beyond Strength: How to Incorporate Natural Movements in Your Strength Routine

By Abby Corriveau
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If you’re reading Girls Gone Strong, it's safe to assume that you see the benefits of developing your strength, and all the ways it can enrich your life.

I want to invite you to explore another dimension of strength development, another way to further develop your strength and fortify your training by incorporating a variety of practical, movement-rich patterns. Tap into this other dimension and you’ll become something beyond strong: you become a good mover.

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This is the heart of the philosophy behind natural movement.

In its purest form, natural movement is about practicing the complete spectrum of organic human movements.

naturalmovement1-450x338In other words, it’s the practice of re-learning and refining the movements that our bodies have been designed to perform, including lifting, carrying, crawling, running, walking, balancing, climbing, vaulting, jumping, throwing, catching, swimming, and even self-defense. The comforts and conveniences of our modern lifestyles have made it seemingly unnecessary to practice these movements.

In comparison to natural movement, today’s exercise routines and sports are highly specialized, exaggerating the development of a few specific abilities, that only representing a small sliver of our broader range of natural abilities in an organic balance. naturalmovement1-350x375The widespread instances of injuries, resulting from either underuse due to no movement, or overuse due to specialized movement, are predictable from this perspective.

A regular practice of a wide range of natural movements can bring your strength, overall state of health, and confidence to a whole new level. By incorporating more natural movement skills into your current strength training routine, you will be better prepared for common life situations. Challenges such as holding a child while trying to get up from the ground, or even more adventurous scenarios, like scooting down a steep incline with loose rock, jumping across a creek while hiking, or vaulting over an obstacle in your way, become effortless with practice. Life will be easier and less intimidating because when you build competency in natural movement skills you become more durable, adaptable, and capable.

Freedom to Move

As Girls Gone Strong, we all know well that strength training is valuable and beneficial for women of all walks of life. It’s an optimal way to improve body composition, strengthen joints, and reduce many health risks, with the very welcome side effect of feeling like a total badass. Consider the added benefit of evolving your training style to go beyond traditional strength training (i.e. focusing only on training movement patterns that support the heaviest load possible).

You can feel empowered on a whole other level by accessing a variety of movements that are essential components of true strength.

Once you have become a well-rounded mover you can work toward what could be considered the highest level of mind-body connection: movement autonomy. This means that you have the physical ability and independence to move through challenging, complex situations without deliberately considering how you’re going to move or questioning whether or not you can do it. In other words, you become so connected to your body that it can quickly adapt to — and perform in — almost any situation. Your body knows how to respond with confidence. And, naturally, you look and feel fantastic as a consequence of your training.

Does this sound intriguing? Are you feeling eager to add a little movement and play to your training?

How Do I “Do” Natural Movement?

naturalmovement3-450x338Chances are you’re already doing some of this in your training, and you didn’t even realize it. Unconventional, multi-dimensional exercises are becoming more widely embraced by the strength training community. In fact, the Turkish Get-Up is a perfect example.

In addition to building full-body strength, the TGU is also restorative in nature. This exercise adds dimension to a traditional strength program and also teaches newcomers to strength training how to move better before adding load. Organizations like Functional Movement Screen (FMS) have illustrated this benefit wonderfully. Looking beyond that, we can also discover the TGU is also a highly practical movement pattern and isn’t limited to the “Turkish” variation. In reality, there are many variations on the “get-up,” each with its own distinct benefit and practical application.

If you are familiar with the basic Turkish Get-Up, here are some variations you can try, in order from easier and more familiar to more advanced. Watch the videos and keep reading for 4 ways you can explore and experiment with natural movement.

Power Get-Up w/ Kettlebell

Power Get-Up w/ Sandbag

Tripod Get-Up

Squat Get-Up

Cross Sit Get-Up

Side-Bent Sit Get-Up

Single-Leg Squat Get-Up

naturalmovement4-450x3384 Ways To Explore And Experiment With Natural Movement

  • For your warm-up or between sets include movements like crawling and rolling to connect to the ground and increase mobility.
  • Choose a few different get-up variations demonstrated above, and practice them between your compound strength exercises like squats and deadlifts in your training sessions. Once you’ve established good technique, you can add them into your conditioning sessions as well.
  • Speaking of connecting to the ground, practice sitting in chairs less and on the ground more.
  • In addition to practicing some of the TGU variations and other movements discussed in this article, visit the MovNat™ website to learn about this specific program and methodology for learning—and becoming certified to teach—natural movement.

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About the author:  Abby Corriveau

Abby is a movement therapist and the founder of Sustainable Movement. She's a Nutritious Movement Certified Restorative Exercise Specialist, Level 3 Certified Trainer (MCT III), and a Girls Gone Strong Certified Pre & Postnatal Coach (CPPC). Her mission is to help humans move more and move well by making movement and exercise more accessible and inclusive for all. Follow with Abby on Instagram and learn more about her on her website.

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