8 Fitness Movements All People Should Excel At

Allow me to introduce you to the 8 fitness movements all people on planet Earth should excel at, and as a bonus throw in a quick discussion on the difference between pushing and pressing—because we all know that question has been on your mind for a long time.



[With a bit of jest and all with the best intentions] If you’re a lazy slob doing jack all, other than sitting behind the computer, stuffing your mouth with chips and queso… but today you decided the time has come to turn yourself into a human being that’s prepared for anything that comes his way. Whether that is jumping to avoid a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks, pushing a fat guy over the bridge, pulling your casino winnings home in a Gucci bag, or running to escape last night’s blind date—this article is for YOU!


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Maybe you’ve been going to the gym for a long time, and feel like you’re just missing out on something but you don’t know what it is. All you know is that you excel at pumping iron and your biceps are as big as your head, but you would not be able to jump onto a 1-meter box jump, pull yourself up, sprint 100m, or lift a heavy object. Well, today is your lucky day, as you are about to find out the 8 movements that all people should excel at. Without further ado.

  1. Pulling
  2. Pushing
  3. Pressing
  4. Lifting
  5. Squatting
  6. Jumping
  7. Running
  8. Rotation


These pulling exercises work the upper body and mostly the posterior/back muscles, lats, delts, traps, and rhomboids. A hot summers day, 30-floor high rise, you’re getting a bit of fresh air, you fall out of the window (yeah really) but are able to grab on to the ledge, you call for help, there’s no one to help because you’re on your own! Are you able to pull yourself up or even hold on longer than 5 seconds for that matter? Bloody oath, even though this scenario is probably one in a million, wouldn’t you want to know you could hold on for at least 2 or 3 minutes and/or have enough strength to pull yourself up?



  • Push-ups
  • Dips


Technically also a push.


Leg press could be included, but I’m not a big fan of machines, I haven’t used any for the past umpteen years, plus, you can’t beat the benefits of a front and back squat. With that said, the pushing and pressing exercises work the upper body and mostly the anterior/front muscles, delts/shoulders, pecs/chest, and triceps. Imagine that clingy chick/dude that looked great last night when you had your beer goggles on, he/she is now squeezing the life out of you trying to prevent you from escaping! Wouldn’t you want to know you have the strength to be able to push her/him off you? Or perhaps you don’t go out, what about being able to push an assailant away? Crikey!


Technically also a pull.

When it comes to human movement and everyday tasks, lifting is one of the primary movements everyone should choose to excel at if they could only choose one (squatting comes bundled with it). Lifting exercises work/target primarily the lower body and work posterior and anterior muscles, hamstrings, glutes, quads, abductors, and adductors. As soon as the upper body is not aligned with the hips the core will also play a big role, think hip hinge, and of course, the upper body comes into play because it’s holding the weight (but the lower body should provide the force to lift). It makes me cringe when I see people pick up heavy objects and use their backs!


  • Pistol squat
  • Cossack squat
  • Back squat
  • Front squat

Everything from lifting pretty much applies to squatting. Righto.


  • Box jump
  • Squat jump
  • Long jump
  • Lateral jump

When it comes to jumping we get into more explosiveness and all of a sudden the calves are more involved. It’s all lower-body muscles that do the work. Yeah yeah, it gets some assistance from upper-body movement to create momentum in some cases, ok.


  • Jogging
  • Sprinting

Lower-body with upper-body assisting to create balance and momentum.


  • Windmill
  • Rotational throws
  • Rotational lunges
  • Russian twists
  • Turkish getup

If you do not throw any rotational work in your workouts you’ll be as stiff as a board, these exercises loosen up your muscles and are key to good performance all-round.



What is the difference between pushing and pressing in fitness terms?

If we look at some online articles about the difference between pushing or pressing a button, the consensus seems to be that pressing implies a downward motion, whereas pushing is an outward motion, errr, that doesn’t help us much.

Let’s get some help from the dictionary:

  • Pressing is the application of pressure by a press or other means
  • Pushing is the act by which something is pushed

If we analyze the pushing exercises we can conclude that in all of them, we’re pushing ourselves away from the pull of gravity, and when pressing we’re pressing the object away from ourselves against gravity. But what about ‘pushing someone away‘? You would remain in the same position and the object/person would not (if you’re stable and strong enough). And what about a Push Press, it’s like a normal Press but uses the lower body to get the weight up.

I’m still confused! Hell, I wouldn’t mind if we just threw the pushing category into the pressing category, join the Brits and call push-ups press-ups. Or at least get a clear definition of the difference between the two.

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