As coaches and trainers, we are so often asked, “How do I put together a program at home?” or “How do you put your classes together?” The simple answer is we make sure to include both grinds and ballistics within the seven basic human movement patterns.
The Seven Basic Human Movements
Grinds, in kettlebell practice, are the slow exercises—the ones you want to perform for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps, such as presses, deadlifts, squats, and get-ups. Ballistics are the quick lifts—such as swings and snatches—that are to be performed for however many reps before form degrades from fatigue or before power output diminishes. Typically, this falls between 10-20 reps.
The seven basic human movements are combined from former StrongFirst Certified Master Instructors Dan John and David Whitley. Dan’s five movements are:
5. Loaded Carry
After assisting a workshop with David Whitley, I added:
2. Counter-rotation (fighting against rotation)
Examples of Each Movement
When training for general physical preparedness (without any specific athletic goal in mind), you will want to start with some get-ups (which cover many categories) and then fill in the blanks. Plenty of exercises fall into two categories. And you can use one kettlebell or two.
By no means is this a comprehensive list, but here are some examples of each movement.
- Push: You can do any of the numerous press variations (military press, floor press, etc.). You can even combine push and counter-rotation by doing a one-sided floor press. If you don’t want to use a kettlebell, you can do pushups (of which there are numerous variations).
- Pull: Any of the row variations (rows, renegade rows, single-leg rows, batwings, etc.) or pullups fall into the pull category.
- Hinge: Deadlifts, swings, cleans, and snatches all are hinges.
- Squat: Goblet squats and front squats are the most common. The more practiced strength students can perform pistols (weighted or unweighted).
- Loaded Carry: According to Dan John, this one’s a game changer. Farmers carries, racked carries, waiter’s walk (overhead carries).
- Rotation: Russian twist, ribbons, overhead rotation (kettlbell locked out overhead and rotate from your spine, not hips).
- Counter-rotation: One-sided suitcase deadlifts, one sided floor presses, renegade rows, one-arm swings, alternating swings.
Sample Workout With the Seven Basic Human Movements
So here is an example for a basic kettlebell class or solo training at home:
- 4 TGUs each side
- 2 laps farmers carries, 2 laps racked carries
30 seconds work with 30 seconds rest for 3 rounds (0:30/0:30 x 3):
- Alternating Swings (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
- Military Press Left (grind, push)
- Military Press Right
- Row Left (grind, pull)
- Row Right
- Snatch Left (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
- Snatch Right
- Russian Twist (rotation)
- Goblet Squat (squat)
That is the secret. Every class could be programmed this way: pretty much the same, but different. Same plan, different tactic. The specifics can change day to day without becoming “random acts of variety.” Using the seven basic human movements provides a template we can follow to get maximal strength, mobility, stability, and fat-loss results. Enjoy!