You’d be surprised how well an average adult human being should be able to move.
It’s no secret that average fitness levels have been gradually decreasing in the modern world for a long time. Unfortunately, the bar for health, fitness, and natural movement has been lowered so many times that, as a culture, we’re beginning to forget what our true movement potential really is. Through the misuse and disuse of the body, many people have lost their natural ability to move in very basic ways. Furthermore, we’re so utterly disconnected from a natural lifestyle and our innate physicality, that we’ve lost touch with our true nature. When you think about it, this is a tragedy because the human body is designed to be able to move in such a diverse number of ways, which enables us to explore our true nature.
Here at MovNat, we’re working to reverse this trend by showing people that an “average” or “ordinary” human being is capable of so much more than what our society has led us to believe. We want all of our students – no matter who they are or where they’re starting from – how much potential they really have lurking inside of them. And we want to share a message of empowerment through natural movement, which is our birthright.
That’s one of many reasons why we compiled these Natural Movement Performance Benchmarks – to give you some tangible goals to work towards, depending on your current level of ability. It’s also why we put together this simple list of natural movements below, which is certainly not an exhaustive list – just the tip of the iceberg, actually. But it’ll give you a pretty good idea of what an average adult human being should be able to do – even into old age.
Important point: Many people can perform these movements effectively (i.e. successfully), but very few people can perform these movements efficiently – at least, without some practice. So, don’t let the simplicity of these movements fool you into thinking these are too basic to be worth your time.
So…how many of these natural movements can you perform efficiently?
Movement #1: Deep Squat
The deep squat is number one on this list because it’s so rudimentary, and yet, so few people can perform it due to disuse and misuse that are correlated with a sedentary lifestyle. If you can’t hold a deep squat comfortably for several minutes, you’ve got a lot of benefits to gain from practicing it (or the progressions leading up to it). Eventually, you will be able to squat down fully and effortlessly.
Movement #2: Knee Hand Crawl
One of the most basic crawling movements, the knee hand crawl is an ideal movement for practicing contralateral movement patterns. If a baby can do it, adults should be able to, too.
Movement #3: Rocking
Most untrained people can rock effectively (i.e. successfully), but very few can rock efficiently without proper instruction and practice. Even fewer can efficiently integrate this movement pattern with other movements (e.g. squat get up). Set a goal of making this movement practically effortless.
Movement #4: Deadlift
The deadlift is one of the most practical of all movement skills since most people perform it several times a day, albeit often mindlessly and inefficiently. The deadlift is also a fundamental manipulative lifting skill and a staple in most strength training programs – making it one of the most important skills to get right.
Movement #5: Balancing Walk
We rarely have to balance these days, until we do! So, it’s important to be have this ability. And there are many unique benefits to be gained from practicing the various balancing skills.
Movement #6: Stepping Over
Stepping over something is another very rudimentary movement that is very practical, especially when moving in nature. You should be able to maintain a tall posture, relax your breathing, and carry something while stepping over an object or obstacle.
Movement #7: Stepping Under
Like the stepping over movement, you should be able to maintain a tall posture, relaxed breathing, and carry an object when stepping under.
Movement #8: Leg Swing Jump
This is one of the first jumps we often teach because it’s ideal for most beginners. Use it for jumping over short distances with a soft and precise landing.
Movement #9: Inverted Crawl
Often called the “crab walk,” the inverted crawl is another movement that is very simple, but is often performed inefficiently. Keep your arms straight, shoulders stabilized, and pull from your legs to initiate the forward movement.
Movement #10: Deadhang
The deadhang is a foundational movement in the domain of climbing skills. Yet, many people do not possess the necessary mobility in the shoulders and thoracic spine to hold the deadhang position without compensating in some way. Like the squat, there are many benefits to be gained from recovering this basic movement.
Movement #11: Lapping
Lapping is a lifting and carrying technique for transitioning an object from the ground onto the lap prior to carrying that object. It’s especially useful for heavy or awkward objects.
Movement #12: Chest Throw and Catch
Your basic chest throw and catch seems simple enough. But how well can you do it with a heavy or awkward object? How fast can you do it? Can you maintain proper technique under pressure?
Movement #13: Chest Carry
There are many ways to hold onto and carry an object, and the chest carry is one of the most basic ones. Can you do it with proper posture, breathing, tension and relaxation? You’ll find out whenever you have to carry something heavy and/or over a long distance.
Movement #14: Split Squat
The split squat is eminently practical and comes with a lot of unique conditioning benefits. This is one of those “big bang for your buck” movement skills that is worth including in your movement practice often.
Movement #15: Deep Knee Bend
Like the deep squat, the deep knee bend is both a position of rest and a common position for transitioning between different movements. Work on being able to maintain good posture, relaxed breathing, and balance until you can perform this movement with unconscious competence.
It’s important to keep in mind that we all start at different levels, with different strengths and weaknesses, different backgrounds and medical/injury histories, among other things. And so, like the old saying goes, it’s the journey – not the destination – that’s most important. So, whether you can complete all of these movements with efficiency, or none of them, we’re just glad that you’re committed to improving whatever movement ability you currently possess.
Now, when you look through this list, you can ask yourself:
- How many of these movements can I perform with good technique? Which ones do I struggle with?
- How well do I perform when the conditioning demands are increased (i.e. at a moderately high volume and/or intensity)?
- How well do I perform with additional situational or environmental challenges – and at what level of competence?
Most people, including beginner and advanced movers alike, will have room for improvement in several areas – even in the most rudimentary movement skills. The good news is that there’s a simple solution: start practicing at whatever level you can, as best you can, as often as you can – and you will get better. And you’ll get the best results when you practice in a progressive, systematic manner that takes your unique needs into account.
Our students are often surprised at how fast they can recover and master movement skills when the conditions for learning and growth are optimized. And that’s one of many reasons why we keep doing what we do best: empowering people through natural movement training.
Want Some Help with Natural Movement Training?
If you’d like to learn more about natural movement fitness and the lifestyle behind it, consider attending the MovNat Level 1 Certification or a MovNat Workshop. We hold events all around the world.
Most people know that they should be more physically active. Some even recognize the incredible value in a system like MovNat. But they struggle with actually implementing natural movement into their daily lives.
That’s why we work closely with people from all walks of life to help them move better, get healthier and stronger, and discover their true potential with natural movement fitness.
It’s also why we work extensively with health and fitness professionals who understand the value of this new paradigm and are eager to start implementing it with their clients.
So, if you’re ready to take your movement practice to the next level, this is your chance. Please join our community and check out an event near you soon.
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MovNat Certification Program