FP First Four: The Foundations of Human Movement

FP First Four: The Foundations of Human Movement


In modern society, due to the development of technological advancements in our infrastructure such as grocery stores, the electrical grid, and agriculture, the function of movement for humans has slowly shifted away from hunting or fleeing from predators, and instead has turned into exercise as a means of staying healthy.

Physical fitness 

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Mobility training such as yoga or pilates have been designed to battle joint stiffness, improve flexibility, and decrease muscle tension. Movement training such as traditional strength training and bodybuilding were used to develop muscular strength and add on muscle mass while building bone density. However, these ways of training don’t account for fixing a structure that is already dysfunctional thus they would start to create more hyper mobility in the structure, or add on muscle to a flimsy and compressed frame.

This focus has also shifted to an increased interest in going back to our roots as animals and employing more natural movements and other movement training programs, in hopes of promoting longevity and keeping us healthy as we age. 

However, when you employ a first principles approach to determining the sorts of  training humans should be prioritizing, there are a few that should be focused on more than others, as they are more fundamental to the origin of the human species. 

Natural movement

Standing, walking, running, and throwing are those foundational pillars that we at Functional Patterns categorize as the FP First Four and define as the most fundamental movements that we should prioritize in order to maintain a healthy and sustainable structure without pain and anxiety.

By measuring our physical fitness through our capacity to stand, walk, run, and throw, Functional Patterns is the end all be all of  training the body that alleviates joint stiffness, unwanted muscle tension, improves strength and athleticism, while reducing excessive ranges of motion at the joints.

What makes standing, walking, running, and throwing so fundamental? Are they the only movements that we do in FP? And is FP so different from the other training methodologies that incorporate gait-training exercises?

In this article, we will discuss why standing, walking, running, and throwing are considered the FP First Four movements and provide insight as to what differentiates FP from the rest of the industry when it comes to your health and longevity. 

What Makes a Human, Human?

When training the body, one should employ a first principles approach to eliminate wasteful movements that may harm you over the long term. Certain movements may not cause problems instantly, but may cause issues down the road when you least expect it, due to ingraining dysfunctional patterns and may cause difficulty in determining where your pain or dysfunctions originated from. 

In order to make sure the movements that we choose to partake in recreationally don’t produce more problems later down the road, we must make sure we prioritize the most fundamental movements our ancestors have evolved through in nature. These movements are standing, walking, running, and throwing. We at Functional Patterns did not decide this though, it was observed through the work of anthropologists finding skeletal remains. 

Anthropologists have determined that permanent bipedalism (standing on two feet) was one of the most important factors in the origin of the human species. Allowing humans to permanently free up two limbs gave them the advantage of using their hands to grasp objects and use them as tools to protect themselves and more easily hunt for food.

natural movement

Many animals have also been observed fighting from a bipedal posture, such as anteaters, lions, tigers, canines, bears, wolverines, horses, rodents, primates, and great apes, as this upright posture provides a performance advantage by striking downwards on an opponent rather than upwards. Researchers also suggest that sexual selection contributed to this permanence in bipedal posture in humans (Carrier, 2011).  

Anthropologists also believe that bipedalism preceded the significant brain size increases humans developed due to the proficiency of hunting with tools leading to a more protein rich diet from the hunt (Harcourt-Smith, 2010).

Along with this change in diet and increase in brain size, some researchers believe the shape of our cranium changed because of the change in pressure on the veins of the body due to the force of gravity acting upon our upright posture (Krantz, 1990).

Many changes happened to our ancestors once they started to walk upright, including brain development, hunting proficiency, diet changes, and offensive and defensive tactics during combat, and more. This was clearly a turning point for our ancestors and a skill that has been part of our species history for a very long time. Therefore, we at Functional Patterns have observed that our ability to stand, walk, run, and throw in this bipedal posture is the most fundamental movement pattern that we should respect when prioritizing movements.

But does this mean that we avoid all other movements in training?

Diversification: Proficiency in the Basics First

You may be wondering: Should I only be doing the FP First Four and avoid all other movements? 

If you are someone that is experiencing chronic pain, we recommend that you should not prioritize other movements that don’t respect the way humans evolved to survive and lead to their proficiency in the FP First Four first.

Many of those who find themselves plateauing while working through the Functional Patterns 10 Week Online Course or when they work with an FP practitioner, typically find results when they decide to give their body a break from the extraneous activities that they seem to fill their days with. 

This may include exercises like cycling, traditional weight lifting, yoga, Pilates, rock climbing, hiking, marathons, circus, basketball, hockey, mixed-martial arts, etc. and they tend to spend too much time diversifying these movements instead of prioritizing the FP First Four. 

joint stiffness

joint stiffness

Because you may not be giving your body a so-called “detox” from these other movements (with inefficient mechanics), you aren’t allowing your structure to adapt to this optimal structure that you are developing. Your body will just go back to its’ old pattern of movement and thus reversing all the work it took to create the integration in that optimal structure. 

mobility training

But if so many of those movements are so damaging to the human species, how come we are so good at performing them? At FP, we believe that humans were able to have such a diverse repertoire of movements because of our proficiency in standing, walking, running, and throwing. 

We tend to find many of the same principles needed to climb, cycle, wrestle, kick, lift heavy objects, jump, etc. are found in the FP First Four. Most other movements seem to be derivatives of standing, walking, running, and throwing, so that is why those who practice FP on their own and clients who train with FP practitioners around the world are performing better at their respective sports by just improving the way that they move in those fundamental human movements. 

So should everyone simply start including gait-orientated exercises as a way to improve their exercise habits and health?

What Separates FP From The Rest of The Pack?

In recent years, due to the constant pressure by Functional Patterns to orientate training around the gait-cycle, many others in the fitness industry have now started to implement gait-orientated exercises as part of their selling points. Whether that is using rotational or counter-rotational training, head-over-foot mechanics, knees-over-toes exercises, or mace-bell, kettlebell, or dumbbell swings, this shift in the industry was a good direction. Unfortunately, there is still a wide margin that sets FP ahead of the rest. 

Many other methodologies are adopting gait-oriented training but they have trouble showcasing results that show optimal, permanent change is being made on their clients’ structures. Why is that?

One reason is that FP practitioners are not trying to impose their beliefs on their clients. They objectively test, observe, then retest to see if the exercise is actually causing a structural change in their clients, or if the exercise is being performed while using the same mechanical drivers they are already good at.

Movement training

At Functional Patterns, practitioners and those who start the FP journey on their own tend to learn to be scientific so that they can best adapt to the process of solving problems. Typically, when one problem is addressed, several more problems may start to surface that contributed to the original problem. This can be problematic for those who are wholly reliant on one concept or technique that addresses one singular problem and doesn’t account for multiple variables that are associated with the whole structure. Simply put, we address the system not the symptoms.

Another reason is that the fundamentals found in the FP First Four address more variables than what other methodologies account for.

FP doers typically spend their whole training session with the intention of solving problems instead of just getting a workout in.This is very different than what other training modalities promote because it can be a very humbling experience for the individual.

While most gait-oriented training programs cater to performing exercises that look similar to Functional Patterns, the quality being showcased takes a hit to favor more weight or more repetitions, leading to even more disastrous and injurious outcomes. 

Functional Patterns focuses on the quality and economy of motion when executing the exercises to ensure pain-free movement but also to ensure the mind and body are integrated when standing, walking, running, and throwing.

By training with the intention of solving problems around the FP First Four the entire body as a system can be corrected in an efficient manner.

Muscle tension

Results by Steven Naumovski

Lastly, and probably the most important factor that sets Functional Patterns apart from the rest of the industry, is the consistent showcase of results of the FP First Four over time. 

Functional Patterns has been posting case study results since the company was established in 2009. Practitioners around the world have kept up this showcasing of results of their clients in the FP First Four since then, and the results have become even more diversified in the types of corrections being made. Not only are average people with shoulder, low back, or neck pain overcoming their postural issues, people with Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, and even Alzheimer’s are also improving their symptoms, and it shows in how they stand, walk, run, and throw. 

natural movement

Results from Danny Hung

These results give consumers an effective way to gauge whether the methodology they want to spend their hard-earned money and time on can back up their claims or if they are just another snake oil marketing scheme. 

It is easy for a company or methodology to sound like they can fix your ailments, but without the actual results to support that methodology, it is just a theory with no evidence that it works.

Therefore, as for the last 14 years and counting, Functional Patterns will always let the results speak for themselves to allow consumers to make a more informed decision on which system or methodology to follow.

Do you choose a company that constantly makes empty promises? Or will you choose a company that also walks the walk?


Modern society has made life very easy for the majority of humans in present times. Instead of fending off dangerous predators and hunting down our food, we have transitioned the main function of movement from survival to exercise. 

This has created a surge of marketing trends from trainers and influencers around the world which promote movement training or mobility training, targeting certain audiences who suffer from issues with flexibility, muscle tension, or joint stiffness, and they claim that their methods will give someone an injury-free life. 

Unfortunately, we at Functional Patterns have observed through testing in the field of training real clients for over 14 years that mindless movement training that doesn't respect the FP First Four will act only as short-term distractions, since they do not address the system as a whole and only focus on the symptoms. 

Adding gait-orientated movement training is a step in the right direction, but it is much more important to pick a system that showcases results over theory. The quality of the exercise being performed under careful observation of a trained FP practitioner, and the accountability provided by them, will create an environment that promotes regeneration.

Functional Patterns is the only system in the entire fitness industry that is consistently showcasing results all across the world. When in doubt, ask to see results before choosing where to spend your time and money.

Natural movement

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  1. Carrier D. R. (2011). The advantage of standing up to fight and the evolution of habitual bipedalism in hominins. PloS one, 6(5), e19630. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0019630
  2. Harcourt-Smith, W.H.E. (2010). The First Hominins and the Origins of Bipedalism. Evo Edu Outreach3, 333–340. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12052-010-0257-6
  3. Krantz, G. (1990). Relating brains, blood, and bipedalism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 13(2), 362-363. doi:10.1017/S0140525X00079164
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