Training with the 5 Pillars of Movement

When I was a young athlete back in high school I used to train my muscles in isolation manner believing that by strengthening them I would be bigger, stronger and faster. But training without the right knowledge and proper guidance caused dysfunctional kinetic chain which then caused me injury instead.

Later when I became a fitness trainer in my college, I started studying more on how professional athletes train. It turns out that athletes don’t just train muscles in isolation. A good coach will instead train them in functional movement that can be transferred to their sport performance. Regardless of what sports they participate, these 5 functional human movements will be incorporated in their training program.

  • Rotation (striking, throwing, swinging an object, and other twisting action)
  • Pushing (moving something farther away from you)
  • Pulling (moving something closer to you)
  • Locomotion (walking, running, crawling, carrying, swimming, climbing etc.) (Anything that gets you from point A to point B can be considered “locomotion.”)
  • Raising & Lowering your center of mass (squatting, lunging, stepping, getting up and down off of the floor, etc.)

These 5 pillars of movement were coined by Nick Tumminello, whom improvised on JC Santana’s 4 pillars of movement somewhere back in early 2000. The difference between Nick and Santana ‘s concept is that JC Santana combined the pushing and pulling movement together, whereas Nick separates the two arguing that the two movements are opposite action and requires their own training application.

The National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) also recommends similar training approach of training movement instead of muscles in isolation. Personally I think that any training program that doesn’t include these 5 pillars of movement will cause dysfunction on the kinetic chain and leave gap in our movement ability which in turn could lead to potential injuries and pain in the long run.