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The Primal Blueprint 4 Essential Movements

The Primal Blueprint 4 Essential Movements

Humans have been squatting, horizontal pressing, vertical pressing, climbing and using their torsos to resist pushing and pulling forces for millions of years. We’ve been running really quickly for that long too. And we’ve been walking long distances at slow paces!

Now, it’s the 21st century, and movement has changed. We have chairs, so we don’t need to squat. We rarely need to climb anything. We don’t do a lot of physical labor that might require pressing things overhead, and we tend to avoid physical conflicts that involve pushing and pulling. Primal Blueprint Fitness is the bridge between our inactive modern lifestyles and our evolutionary propensity for movement and physical prowess.

The Primal Blueprint Fitness program has three main components, summarized in the Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid:

Lift Heavy Things

Resistance training is the cornerstone of fitness. Stronger people live longer, survive hardships better and are able to enjoy life more fully than weaker people. Two to three Lift Heavy Things workouts of 7-30 minutes each week, employing the Four Essential Movements (see below), are recommended.

Run Really Fast Every Once in Awhile

Sprinting is the biggest “bang for your buck” exercise. It’s brutally effective and highly efficient, promoting growth hormone release, fat burning and lean mass building. But you know why we really like sprinting? It’s over in 10 to 15 minutes… and you only have to sprint once a week!

Move Frequently at a Slow Pace

Slow movement is the foundation of fitness. Walking, hiking, gentle cycling—these activities aren’t about burning calories; they’re about maintaining the movement and the ability to move. Three to five hours of slow-paced movement a week is recommended.

Put it all together and you’ve got 4 to 6 hours of “exercise” a week total, with just about an hour of strength training, 15 minutes of sprinting and 3 to 5 hours of walking. You do that, and you’ll be in darn good shape.

Can you “sacrifice” a few hours out of your week to build muscle, improve bone density, and get stronger, fitter, faster and leaner?

We think you can!

Let’s begin with four movements that are essential to our health and functionality. The Primal Blueprint calls them the Four Essential Movements. Check out the descriptions below to get started:

The 4 Essential Movements

1. Pushups

From a plank position (straight, rigid line from feet to head), hands flat on the ground and shoulder width apart, arms extended and fingers pointed forward, lower your body until your chest (or nose) touches the ground. Keep your core and glutes tight and your spine and neck neutral.

Simplified Progression (consecutive reps needed to progress)

1. Knee pushups (male, 50; female, 30) 2. Incline pushups (male, 50; female, 25)

Movement Mastery

male, 50 pushups; female, 20 pushups

2. Pullups

Keep your elbows tight, tuck your chin (try to make a double chin) and retract your shoulder blades (to protect your shoulders). Without flailing or using your lower body, lead with your chest and pull your body up using an overhand grip until your chin passes the bar. When lowering, never fully protract your shoulder blades. Don’t lead with your chin; keep it tucked throughout.

Simplified Progression

1. Chair-assisted pullups (male, 20; female, 15)

2. Chin-up (inverted grip) (male, 7; female, 4)

Movement Mastery

male, 12 pullups

female, 5 pullups

3. Squats

With feet at or around shoulder width (whatever’s most natural) and toes either forward or pointing slightly outward, lower by pushing your butt back and out until your thighs reach at least parallel. Keep the weight on the heels and a tight, neutral spine throughout the movement.

Simplified Progression

Assisted squat (using a pole or other support object while lowering into a squat) (male and female, 50)

Movement Mastery

male and female, 50 full squats

4. Planks

Your body is a plank, as the name suggests. You are a single cohesive unbroken body, a straight line from head to foot. Elbows/forearms and toes are your only points of contact with the ground.

Simplified Progression

1. Forearm/knee planks (male and female, two minutes)

2. Hand/feet planks (male and female, two minutes)

Movement Mastery

male and female, two minutes

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