Fitness isn't about being better than someone else... It's about being better than you use to be.


It is not recommended you attempt the following movements if you've never previously been properly instructed by a trainer. Please contact your Peer Fitness Trainers for an instructional session before performing the movements.


7 Key Movement Patterns

7 Movement Patterns.jpg

The 7 Key Movement Patterns were designed by the IAFF Wellness Fitness Initiative to reduce acute and chronic injuries. Following these patterns put your body in a stable position to perform your lifts safely.

The patterns don't only pertain to weight lifting and exercises, they also provide safe body positioning during everyday movements.


Lower Body Pushing


Back Squat/Front Squat


Whether your squatting with weight or performing air squats make sure to stay within your range of motion. Only go as deep as your form allows. Stop if your back begins to round or your tailbone begins to tuck under your pelvis. If performing a front squat force your elbows towards the sky. This will help keep you upright.

Alternatives: Weighted (barbells or dumbbells), air squat, jumping air squat, tempo decent (3-4 second decent, 1 second up)


The Lung


The lunge is a great functional exercise to use to strengthen your legs, especially your muscles around your knees, for everyday activities. It is important to know how to do your lunges correctly though, so you don't end up putting unwanted strain on your knee joints and do more harm than good. Keep your knees and toes in line. Knees should always track over your toes. Push through your heels. Do not round or extend back. Hold dumbells to increase difficulty.

Alternatives: Jumping alternating lunges, step ups


Lower Body Pulling


Kettlebell/Dumbbell Swing


A fairly simple exercise with great benefits. No only a strength exercise but also a cardio. Focus on your back positioning and sitting back to engage those hamstrings. Explode through your hips to create the force that will swing the weight up. Keep your arms locked and straight the entire time. Start by only bringing the weight to eye level. As you advance you can swing the weight overhead.

Alternatives: single arm

This may seem like a simple movement but in fact is very complex. Easiest way to think about this lift is to push the ground away from you rather than lifting the weight up. Your starting position is extremely important. Feet shoulder width apart and bar against your shins. Role your shoulders back and down and keep shoulder blades pinched together throughout the lift. Back in a neutral position. Grip the bar overhand and elbows fully extended. Sit your butt down and back, engaging your hamstrings. As you stand squeeze through your glutes until your hips are completely open.


The sumo deadlift high pull (SDLHP) is an explosive compound movement that develops tremendous power in the posterior chain.  It primarily strengthens the hamstrings, glutes, lower back and upper traps. The SDLHP begins in a similar position to the deadlift, with two minor differences, stance and hand grip. The SDLHP uses a sumo stance, which means the feet are placed wide apart.  How wide?  As wide as you can get them without having the knees cave inwards. With grip the hands are placed near the middle of the bar, which allows more flexibility to pull the bar all the way up to the chin.  A good way to figure out where to place your hands is to center them on the bar with approximately two thumb distances between them (touch the tips of your thumbs together and then grip the bar with an overhand grip).


Upper Body Pressing


Shoulder Press


Even though this is a shoulder exercise, this movement starts from the ground. Feet comfortable distance apart, glutes engaged, and core tight. Start with you shoulders down and back. Keep back upright in a neutral position, no hyperextension in lower back. Press through until your elbows are locked out.

Alternatives: Dumbbell press, single arm press




A simple movement but widely done incorrectly. Start in a straight arm plank position with shoulders directly over your wrists. Shoulders rolled back and down. Back in neutral position and glutes and core engaged. Keep your elbows close to your body. Letting them chicken wing out reduces your power and leaves your shoulders in a vulnerable position. Lower yourself to the the ground while shifting your weight forward so your forearms remain perpendicular to the ground. The greater hinge at the elbow means more recruitment of the tricepts and less shoulders, back, and check. Return to starting position by pushing ground away and shift body back slightly until shoulders above wrists.

Alternatives: clapping, narrow hands


Upper Body Pulling


Pull-Up Progression


Pull-Up Progression

Inverted rows are a great starting movement to build the strength to eventually perform a pull-up. Keep you body tight by pushing up with your hips. Like in push-ups it's important to keep your elbows close. Again, forearms should be 90 deg to the bar. Pull until bar hits chest at nipple line. Increase difficulty by elevating your feet or placing weights on your chest. As strength builds progress to pull-ups with exercise bands or jumping pull-ups.

Alternatives: bar hang, pull-up with static hold at top, 2-3 seconds to bottom position.


Barbell/Dumbbell Bent Over Row


Much like the inverted row, this exercise with target your back, rear deltoids, and lats. Focus on a straight back positioning. Try squeezing your scapulas together at all times, even when arms are in extension. No hyper-flexion or extension. Hand positioning will target different muscle groups. The wider your positioning the greater your rear deltoids will be targeted. By bringing your hands narrower, you can target the lats. Play around with how bent over or straight up you position your torso. Start with a more straight up position to reduce tension on your lower back as you build strength.

Alternatives: Single arm dumbbell row (don't allow for torso twisting)






Plank, Side Plank, and Variations

Everyone's done a plank before but not everyone knows the variations. When doing planks keep your body in line. Don't let your hips sag or extend into the air.


Medicine Ball Rotational Throws


Medicine Ball Rotational Throw

This exercise can be done by yourself against a wall or with a partner. While performing this exercise it's important to rotate your hips and feet with our upper body as you throw the ball, like swinging a bat. The farther away from your body you hold the ball, the harder on your core.


Hollow Rocks


From a supine position extend your arms and legs. Lift your shoulders and legs off the ground. Make sure your lower back stays on the ground! Now start rocking back and forth. Stay tight in your core.

Alternatives: arms by your side and legs extended, arms extended with only one leg extend


Cardio Movements




A technical move that requires some flexibility and incorporates legs, core, chest, and shoulders. The bigger "pop" off the ground you create the easier it is to get into the squat position. Explode out of the squat to get approx 6" off the ground. Clap overhead. As you get tired or your flexibility limits you, you can step up from the ground into the squat position.


Mountain Climbers


May seem like a simple movement, but do enough of them and you'll be sucking wind and your legs and shoulders will be screaming. Feel free to start slow and advance by increasing your pace. Remember to breath.


Complex Movements




This is a combination shoulder, leg, and core workout. The video explains the movement very well. The biggest thing to take away is to only go as low into the squat as form allows. If you notice your back starting to round or your knees starting to come in, you've gone too deep. Keeping your glutes engaged during the entire movement will help to keep good for and stay tight in the bottom positions. Although the ideal height to throw the ball is 10 feet for men and 9 feet for women, don't focus on height but rather good form and repetitions. Height will come with strength and form.

Alternative: instead of throwing the ball do a squat and press up, once the ball is thrown do a second squat before catching and going into the next rep


Barbell/Dumbbell Clean and Press


A great full body explosive workout. This movement can be done with either dumbbells or a barbell. It's important to start with hips low and a flat back. As you come out of your squat position explode with a hip thrust. This will help generate the power to get the weight to your shoulders. From there take a quarter squat and explode once more through the hips while pressing the weight to the sky. Lock out your elbows and knees when weight overhead.

Alternatives: Single arm dumbbell clean and press




Also another great workout that really requires explosive hips. To put it simple terms, this movement is a combination of a front squat and push press. Something to remember while doing the front squat keep your elbows up as high as you can. This will keep the weight in a good position to push up and help keep your back from rounding forward. Lock out your elbows and knees when overhead.

Alternatives: Dumbbell thrusters, Single arm dumbbell thrusters




A killer movement that combines pushups, rows, burpees, cleans, squats, and presses. Start with light weight! When going from the plank to the start of your clean, try to land with your feet in between the weights. Pay close attention to the position of your back as you get tired. Use you legs and hip thrust to generate the power required to bring the weights into a clean position and over head.