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Primal Movement: The Key to Unlocking Your Body’s Potential

by: Sarah Appleby
Published: January 14, 2023
Updated: January 15, 2023

Primal movement is a form of fitness that involves moving as our hunter-gatherer ancestors once did. They crawled, climbed, jumped, walked and squatted as part of their daily lives. The concept of primal fitness is to move as our bodies have evolved to. Whilst moving primally isn’t a new concept in the ancestral health community, there has been a recent surge of interest in this style of exercise. Primal movement has even been mentioned as one of the hottest fitness trends of 2023 in a recent Pinterest Predicts trends report.

In this post we’ll share with you how you can make fitness fun with primal movements. Even your most exercise-hesitant clients will enjoy working out the primal way!

Unlock your body's potential with primal movement.
Unlock your body’s potential with primal movement.

What is Primal Movement?

Primal movement as a form of fitness, involves moving our bodies the way they have evolved to move. We all start life with the ability to move in a primal manner. Have you ever noticed how a toddler can sit comfortably in a deep squat while playing on the floor? But our sedentary modern lives have hampered our ability to sprint, climb, squat and jump as our ancestors once did.

The good news is that it’s not hard to get it back. Our bodies want to move primally; it’s what they’re designed to do.

Primal movements are easy to perform and require minimal (if any) equipment. Here’s a list of 11 basic movements that you can include in your primal workouts:

  1. Walking – can be incorporated in your daily activities.
  2. Jumping – explosive and dynamic movements are great for increasing the intensity of your workout.
  3. Running – can be performed with high intensity as a sprint, or with low intensity as a jog.
  4. Squatting – builds lower body strength and can be performed as a body weight exercise or with extra loading.
  5. Lunges – can be performed as a static movement or as a walking lunge.
  6. Plank position – develops core and shoulder strength.
  7. Hanging – is fantastic for improving grip strength and for spinal decompression.
  8. Pull movements – pull-ups can be scaled with bands.
  9. Push movements – push-ups are an awesome body weight exercise that works your shoulders, chest and core muscles.
  10. Bending movements – hinging exercises such as deadlifts, mimic the action of picking an object off the ground.
  11. Sitting on the floor – adopting resting positions such as sitting cross-legged or side sitting will do wonders for your hip mobility.

What Makes Primal Movement an Effective Form of Fitness?

The simplicity and diversity of primal movement makes it an effective form of fitness. Our bodies thrive with physical activity, especially when we move the way our bodies have evolved to.

Here’s our top 9 reasons to include primal movements in your fitness routine:

  1. Primal movements are easy and simple to perform.
  2. No equipment? No problem! You can perform a complete primal workout with no equipment, either at home, outdoors or in the gym.
  3. Get more bang for your buck! Primal movements often consist of compound movements that use multiple joints and muscle groups.
  4. Many primal movements are a form of resistance training, which is great for promoting muscle growth and improving bone density.
  5. Whether your primal fitness is a 3 hour hike, or an intense interval session, both activities promote hormonal homeostasis.
  6. Practicing your primal movements in your workouts will help you move better in everyday life and will reduce your risk of injury.
  7. Primal movements can be progressed or scaled, depending on your fitness level, mobility and energy levels.
  8. Moving as our ancestors did is actually fun. Healthy body, healthy mind, right?  Staying active will help boost mental health.
  9. Short on time? Primal workouts can be performed as a microworkout in less than 2 minutes.

How to Use Primal Movements in a Workout

Primal workouts are lots of fun. Forget 60 minute aerobic classes. Or pounding the pavement daily. These chronic cardio-style activities can lead to overuse injuries and overeating (due to increased hunger).

Fitness primal style, can range from a short and intense 2 minute microworkout, to a 3 hour mountain hike. What we love most about exercising with primal movements is the diversity of what you can do, which means that no workout is the same, and there’s no reason to feel bored.

The Primal Blueprint Fitness program is a handy guide you can use to help you understand how often to train and at what intensity.

The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid
The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid.

The Primal Blueprint Fitness program has three main components which are outlined in the Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid:

1. Move frequently at a slow pace includes low intensity activities such as walking, hiking, swimming, paddling, yoga, pilates and gardening. Aim for 4-6 hours each week of low intensity movement.

2. Lift heavy things includes squats, push-ups, pull-ups, deadlifts, attending a CrossFit class or hitting a TABATA or microworkout at home. Aim for 2 x 10-30 minute sessions each week.

3. Sprint workouts can be performed every 7-10 days. These workouts are brief – no longer than 20 minutes and require an all out effort for the greatest health benefits.

Keen to Learn More?

This post has only scratched the surface of how to use primal movements to stay active. If you’re interested to learn more about primal fitness, then you may want to consider becoming a certified primal fitness coach. Becoming certified in the realm of primal fitness will:

  • Give you the confidence to move with great form and with correct posture.
  • Educate you on the theory behind the techniques.
  • Provide you with an understanding of the progression for each movement, depending on your coordination, flexibility and range of motion.
  • Inform you on the correct number of sets and repetitions to program for your workouts.
  • Allow you to understand how to restore your neuromuscular system through primal movement patterns.

Learn more about which PHCI fitness certification is best for you here:


Primal movement is a fun, simple way to stay active. Workouts consisting of primal movements can be performed anytime, anywhere, and no equipment is needed. All you need is your body to start moving primally today!

Now tell us what you think! Leave a comment below to start or join the discussion...

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