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Ground-Based Movements

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Man in plank position

When you are a baby, your first movements are on your hands and knees, but as you grow, you start to focus your movements off the ground. Carla Sottovia, PhD, Director of Fitness and Personal Trainer Education at Cooper Fitness Center, says, “our bodies are meant to move in different planes of motion, directions, speeds and in a variety of environments and terrains.” Ground-based movements can help you regain the lost mobility, stability and total body strength you once had, “similar to using a reset button,” says Sottovia. Ground-based training involves movements such as:

  1. Rolling
  2. Crawling
  3. Pushing
  4. Pulling
  5. Squatting
  6. Reaching

Ground-based movement training works various parts of the body—your feet, ankles, pelvis, hips, spine and more. “As part of the normal aging process, we lose power, speed and strength in comparison to our younger counterparts,” says Sottovia. “However, we can still aim to maintain our bodies to a higher functional level as we age.”

In general, people—regardless of their age—should be able to perform daily life movements like squatting down, getting up from the floor and even basic patterns like crawling. The reality is for various reasons—lifestyle, overuse injuries and lack of movement—we lose our ability to perform tasks and movements that once were natural to us. Thus, ground-based movement training can be a great way to restore your mobility, flexibility and body strength. When all these benefits are combined, you can move your body in a way you could not have before.

How to Perform Ground-Based Movements

Ground-based movements involve contacting your hands, feet and/or knees to the ground while performing an exercise. When leading her group exercise classes, Sottovia includes movements requiring various points of contact with the ground to ensure the participants reap the ultimate benefits of ground-based movements.

  • Four Points of Contact: Quadruped position
  • Three Points of Contact: Quadruped with one arm
  • Two Points of Contact: Half kneeling
  • One or Single Point of Contact: Standing on one foot

Ground-based movement training can be incorporated into anyone’s exercise routine with basic movements that include any of the four points of contact mentioned above. Sottovia regularly includes the three exercises listed below in her classes and personal workout plan:

  1. Up Up Down Down
  2. Cross-legged Sit to Stand
  3. Crab Position to Side Lunge

Sottovia highlights these exercises and tips in our Ground-Based Movements exercise video. You can also browse more exercise videos by visiting our Exercise Moves video library.

Ground-based exercises can be performed “as a warm up, stand-alone training day or a recovery/maintenance day,” says Sottovia. She recommends only doing 3-5 repetitions of each exercise to help avoid injury. Getting on the ground and going back to the basic movements used at an early age can help anyone looking to improve their mobility. Sottovia reminds her classes that “participating in a variety of movements is the key to living a healthy, strong and injury-free life.”

For more information about professional fitness training at Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a trainer, visit or call 972.233.4832.