Our Journal

6 Natural Movement Benchmarks for Beginners

By Danny Clark, MovNat Performance Director

When you first start any practice, it’s often helpful to have a target; a goal to aspire toward to help drive progress. That’s why I’ve created six Natural Movement benchmarks for beginners. If your body is already in decent condition, give them a try and see how you do. If not, read through them and watch the videos to get a sense of what you are working toward. Then start your practice with one of our many resources.

BENCHMARK #1 – GET-UPS

Movements: Strength Get-Up + Tripod Get-Up + Cross Sit Get-Up

Volume (how many?): 1 per side of each sequence (5 reps for Cross Sit Get-Up), performed continuously

Intensity (with what weight?): Strength Get-Up w/ load in preferred position (shoulder or hand) 16kg for men; 12kg for women; Bodyweight for all others

Complexity (in what environment?): Flat, level surface of choice

Execution: Start from a supine lying position, work up to a standing position and finish back in a supine lying position for each sequence

Video Notes: I filmed my videos outside. I would recommend beginners use more simplified and softer surfaces.

BENCHMARK #2 – BALANCING

Movements: Balancing Walk + Pivot Reverse

Volume: 5 repetitions of walking the 2.5 meters on the board and then pivot reversing (2.5 m walk + 1 pivot reverse is one repetition) without stepping down

Intensity: Bodyweight only

Complexity: 3.5-inch width board (a “2×4”) laid flat on a level surface. One unpracticed contextual demand added.

Execution: Start standing on the board, walk to the edge of the board, pivot reverse, and walk back to the starting point without stepping off. Repeat until all repetitions are completed

Video Notes: Again, I chose to work outside.  The balancing surface was wider, but rounded.  Feel free to explore these movement benchmarks in varying terrain that is equivalent or slightly greater in challenge.

BENCHMARK #3 – LIFTING + CARRYING

Movements: Deadlift + Carry

Volume: 5 Deadlifts, followed by a 20m waist carry

Intensity: approx. 1/2 bodyweight sandbag (or equivalent object) for men; approx. 1/3 bodyweight sandbag for women

Complexity: Flat, level, firm surface

Execution: Begin with the Deadlift repetitions until complete, then proceed to Lapping, then proceed to the Carry using an appropriate grip. Finish the waist carry by setting the bag down using Lapping and Deadlift techniques in reverse

Video Notes: I chose a really bulky object, and didn’t walk as far as designated in the benchmark.  My grip capacity for that object just wasn’t up to par that day. Even I need to continue to refine the basics!

BENCHMARK #4 – JUMPING

Movement: Downward Jump

Volume: 2 repetitions

Intensity: Half the height of the student (rounded up to nearest available box height) with a height/distance ratio of 1:1 (ex – 2m tall student = 1m height box with a 1m distance target)

Complexity: flat, level, firm, 8”x8” surface

Execution: starts standing and ends up standing after a 2 second established landing

Video Notes: If this height/distance ratio is too much, scale it down to ensure safety. 

BENCHMARK #5 – CLIMBING

Movement: Side Swinging Traverse

Volume: 2m down and 2m back

Intensity: Bodyweight

Complexity: 2.5-4.5 cm (1-2’’) thick, smooth bar

Execution: Start from a dead side hang, then use the swinging traverse technique for the specified distance and finish hanging still before releasing the bar.)

Video Notes: My surface was much wider and really taxed my grip. For beginners, I’d recommend starting with something much more narrow to avoid excessive tension in the body.

BENCHMARK #6 – CRAWLING

Movement: Foot-Hand and Inverted Crawl

Volume: 2:00 minutes without rest or pause

Intensity: approx. 1 step per second

Complexity: 1 unpracticed contextual demand added

Execution: Starts and finishes in a Crawl position

Video Notes: Feel free to test your adaptability by adding obstacles, as shown in the video!

That’s it! While viewing or trying these movements, remember that the first step in the MovNat method is creating effectiveness (ie, being able to do something), before moving onto efficiency (being able to do something with high performance/safety and low energy expenditure). So, wherever you are in your practice progression, make sure you are working toward baseline efficiency before jumping into more advanced movements.

Give these a try and use them to help inform your practice and get you to the next level in your Natural Movement journey!

Note: MovNat will soon be releasing a brand new e-course, MovNat Level 1 Fundamentals, which will be a great help to work toward and surpass these benchmarks. Make sure you’re subscribed to the MovNat Email Newsletter and following us on Facebook and Instagram to get all the details and exclusive offers.

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