What is Movement-Based Exercise?

What is Movement-Based Exercise?

There is a new style of training that is emerging. Some may have seen popular trainers such as Ido Portal doing backflips and explaining the importance of human kinetics and freedom in movement, while others know the ever controversial Naudi Aguilar, who popularized Functional Patterns.

Whatever the method, we are starting to see a shift from free weight, strength based movements to freedom in movement - exercise that requires balance, precision and a complete control of all muscle.

This new style of training is being called movement exercise, and it could be your best bet at finding balance, strength and mobility in your training sessions.

The question is, why is movement exercise becoming so popular - and what are the benefits of training in this way?

Freedom In Movement

Why is movement exercise becoming so popular? I mean, not everyone can do handstands or backflips - but we can all squat and bench press.

Something about the unknown draws people to try new activities and find a challenge.

Movement exercise is becoming popular because people are finding it more entertaining and challenging than traditional strength training.

Think about it, activities that provide a challenge will also provide a greater sense of accomplishment - which for many people, will help them to stay active for longer.

For example: Instead of saying you want to increase your overhead press, your goal could be to do 5 handstand pushups.

Of course, these are not exactly the same, but the idea is to train your shoulders.

One of the biggest difference between the two is the freedom in movement. There is something about being able to move your body in any way, free of the constraints of barbells and dumbbells.

Strength In All Ranges Of Motion

One of the biggest downsides to traditional strength training is that most, if not all of the strength is completely limited to the specific exercise you are training in.

Take for example a bench press. In this exercise you will train to help strengthen the chest, triceps and shoulder - but in what situation will you be pushing a massive amount of weight off your chest with a completely straight barbell? It's highly unlikely.

Movement exercise works to strengthen the complete system, working your muscles through a deeper range of motion.

In this way you are not just training to increase strength in your bench press, but also to increase strength through a more complete range of motion.

In contrast to completing a bench press, many movement-based exercises will get into exercise on gymnastic rings. Exercising in an unstable environment not only helps to recruit more muscle tissue through the exercise, but you also fall into a deeper range of motion.

Training with the gymnastic rings through movement exercise will provide freedom in movement and strengthen the entire muscle, rather than strengthening for a specific  and somewhat restricted movement.

We do want to emphasize that strength training is not bad - in any way. Strength training is the foundation at which you can develop your physique into the future - you couldn't even touch gymnastic rings unless you were strong enough.

For best results you should incorporate both movement exercise and traditional strength training.

What Are The Best Styles Of Movement Exercise

Fit woman doing pilates

Movement exercise is not as simple as jumping onto some gymnastic rings, or dropping down into downward-dog, there are several styles of exercise that are best for specific goals.

Let's walk through some of the most popular, their benefits and why you should give them a shot.


Yoga has taken the fitness industry by storm for a reason. Not only is it one of the best styles of exercise for strength and conditioning, but it is perfect for mobility, flexibility and overall health.

Yoga is also one of the most simple disciplines to get into. With a yoga studio on every corner you can join a club and try a class anytime you want.

The best part - after you learn the basics you can start to develop your own practice, making your experience completely unique.

Benefits Of Yoga

  • Low cost
  • Little to no equipment needed
  • Can be done anywhere, anytime
  • Great for strength, mobility and general conditioning


Grab a couple friends and go try a hot yoga session. Not only will you get a great sweat, but the inclusion of heat helps to make your muscles and joints more pliable - so you can train through deeper ranges of motion and increase your mobility.


Perhaps the largest discipline in movement exercise. Calisthenics covers a wide range of training styles, from bar work, to pilates - calisthenics is a great way to have complete control of your body, while achieving relative strength beyond belief.

Don't believe us, take some time to checkout some calisthenic highlight videos online - some of the stuff these people do is truly incredible.

Calisthenics is perfect for strength, conditioning and body awareness. The only downside to calisthenics is that at the moment there are not really strict gyms or fitness centers that can guide you through the process - you might be on your own.


If you’re interested in getting into calisthenics you may want to check out your local parks or even facebook groups. Chances are you will  be able to find small groups of people who have started calisthenic groups in your area.

Benefits of Calisthenics

  • Little to no equipment needed
  • Great community atmosphere
  • Perfect for developing strength and conditioning
  • Helps develop mobility and balance

Dynamic Movement Sports

These are the adventure seekers. Parkour, rock climbing, skydiving, these are all new, movement based sports that are taking the fitness industry to a new level.


The act of free running. This sport become popular in the early 2000s, but now has a great following and dedicated gyms where you can run and jump your way from point a-to-b.

Some gyms have even incorporated the ever-popular ninja warrior training.

Be sure to checkout a parkour gym for a fun and engaging way to improve your raw strength and endurance. It's probably the most fun you will have in a workout!

Rock Climbing

Adventure seekers rejoice! Rock climbing is now an olympic sport and the training is becoming very serious. Rock climbing is one of the most fun and interactive way to strengthen your entire body.

Don't believe us - try hanging upside down for over a minute and tell us your entire body isn't screaming at you!

The best part - you don't have to go outside anymore. Indoor rock climbing gyms are popping up in every city and you can try your luck in a safe setting that is full of experience climbers.

Benefits of Dynamic Movement Sports

  • Strength through a complete range of motion
  • Fun and completely interactive environment
  • Improve conditioning and strength
  • Community engagement
  • Ability to train for olympic sport

Why Movement Exercise is Important

Man doing one armed handstand plank

Many of us get so focused on only improving our strength, or only improving our condition. We forget that much of this can be done through one style of training that covers all aspects of human performance.

Movement exercise is important because:

It Will Increases Variability in Training

When you adapt to your training - you stop making progressions. In order to achieve a complete physique full of strength and performance you should engage in all modes of training, especially movement exercise.

Boosts Your Conditioning and Endurance

Steady state cardio is great, but its not quite applicable to complete conditioning. There is nothing better for your conditioning than a complete exercise program that incorporates all forms of movement exercise. 

Increases Mobility

There is no better mobility training than actually moving through complete ranges of motion during exercise. You can work all you want on mobility, myofascial release, but until you put it into action with movement exercise you really do not know what you are capable of.

It's Fun

The biggest and most important aspect that we all forget about when we start working out. Exercise is intended to be fun and interactive. There are even hormones that are secreted during training that mock states of complete happiness and satisfaction.

Training through movement exercise, whether it be yoga, pilates, rock climbing or calisthenics will provide you with a deeper sense of fun.

Lifting weights is great, but sometimes it can feel quite robotic.

Step outside your comfort zone, have some fun and improve your conditioning all at the same time.

Push Further With Movement Based Exercise

There are a host of different types of training you can start doing in order to boost your performance.

From strength training to HIIT workouts you may have tried them all, but have you given movement exercise a fair shot?

Not only is movement exercise more fun and interactive than traditional exercise, but it also stimulates more muscle than other types - helping you improve strength and accelerate recovery.

Movement exercise helps you to do more with your workouts. Improve mobility, body awareness, and above all - do some really cool exercises like handstands and backflips.

Who knows, you might never go back to a traditional gym again.

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