Design Your Own Home Program

This article is geared towards those looking to design their own home exercise routines.

All the different ways that the human body can move or be exercised fall into one or more of the following categories. In healthy human movement that involves continually moving around in three dimensions and getting up and down from the floor frequently, all of the following should be present. It’s important to include each of these into your program because the brain operates by the rule ‘use it or lose it’ – if you don’t regularly use your body the way it was designed to move, you’ll literally lose the capability. The human body is the great adaptor. It will adapt to any stimulus you regularly apply to it. If you regularly move often and well, you’ll keep that until your final days (if your diet is good too). If you spend most of your life sitting in a chair (which the vast majority do) your wonderful body will adapt and become chair shaped, making it impossible to carry out normal daily activities and tasks without injury.

  1. Hinge

  2. Squat

  3. Gait

  4. Rotate

  5. Anti-rotate

  6. Push

  7. Pull

Here are some movements / exercises that you may be aware of, color coded as follows:

GREEN: Daily movements that everyone should already be doing in their daily lives if it weren’t for chairs/sofas

BLUE: Purposeful movements/exercises that you can do with your own bodyweight

RED: Kettlebell lifts / movements to promote athleticism and strength. All lifts are hardstyle unless otherwise stated

1. Hinge (at the hip, not by flexing your lower back): Imagine a baby picking something up from the floor. Minimal spinal flexion, the knees bend a little but most of the movement comes from the hips.

Bend over to pick something up

Lift/move furniture

Lift up shopping

Bend to reach for something in a low cabinet

Get back ups / fall matrix

Pop & stop

Shoulder bridge

Single leg deadlift

Long jump from standing

Vertical jump from standing

Get up


Single leg deadlift (loaded)


Side swing

Cross swing


Close leg swing


Bent press

2. Squat: where the knees bend as much as the hips. The original human sitting and shitting position, before the chair came along and messed everything up.

Sit for meals (on the floor, obviously)

Getting into and out of bed (on the floor)

Getting up from the floor

Get back ups / fall matrix

Supported squat

Wall squat

Step up

Split squat

Cossack lunge

Pistol squat

Get up

Loaded step up

Front squat

Goblet squat

Overhead squat

Loaded pistol squat

3. Gait: otherwise known as locomotion, generally executed in a contra-lateral pattern (right arm working with left leg and vice versa).

Commando crawl

Baby crawl

Lunge (up from the floor)


Leopard crawl, spiderman crawl, crouching tiger crawl, lizard crawl, scorpion crawl, etc





Get up

Loaded carry family

4. Rotate / Twist. Arguably the most powerful movement available (think throwing a javelin).


Getting up from the floor

Twisting (to look at something)

Reaching (to grab something)

Get back ups / fall matrix

Chopping (with an axe or chopping patterns with resistance bands in different directions)

Reverse salamander

Fighting / boxing / kicking


Get up

Sling shots


Bent press

Swing, clean, snatch (GS style)

Reverse swing (circus style)

Reverse snatch (circus style)

5. Anti-rotate (AKA resisting rotation): Locking in your core so the torso does not twist, thereby protecting the lower back and transmitting force efficiently from the shoulders to the hips, eg…

Getting up from the floor

Opening a heavy door

Carrying shopping/a baby

Holding onto a hand rail on public transport, whilst standing

Get back ups / fall matrix

Single arm wall push ups

Bird dogs (and variations: single side, isometric, knee-to-elbow, plank)

Reverse salamander

Plank variations (one arm one leg, climber, push up)

Some crawls (baby, leopard, crouching tiger)

Get up

Swing, clean, snatch

Cross swing

Crushing halo

Side swing

Standing side swing

Single leg deadlift

Heavy military press (single arm)

Loaded carry family

6. Push (with your arm). Commonly broken down further to vertical and horizontal. All single arming pushing requires good anti-rotation in the torso to be effective…

Pushing open a heavy door

Pressing your luggage into the overhead locker

Getting up from the floor

Get back ups / Fall matrix

Wall push ups

Push up variations (on knees, proper, hindu, ninja, street fighter, geckos, corkscrew, crucifix, diamond, one arm, one leg, one arm one leg, staggered, etc)


Get up

Supine press

Military press

7. Pull (with your arm). Commonly broken down further to vertical and horizontal. All single arming pulling requires good anti-rotation in the torso to be effective…

Pulling open a heavy door

Lifting up and holding something (such as a child or groceries)

Lifting furniture

Hang from something

TRX low row

TRX curl

TRX single arm row

Aussie push ups (horizontal pull ups)

Pull ups with resistance band support

Pull ups proper

Clean, snatch – although these are mostly a hip hinge

Swing curl

Sling shot

Goblet squat (isometric curl)

Front squat (isometric curl)

Bent press (reverse curl)

Two hands anyhow (concentric curl)

So what to does all this mean and how do you put it together to form your own healthy exercise regimen? The answer comes in three parts:

  1. GREEN: Day-to-day lifestyle habits to make, which will ensure you tick all the boxes of movement and maintain healthy movement patterns, for life.

  2. BLUE: How to put an exercise program together to strengthen all of the movement patterns with you own bodyweight.

  3. RED: How to put a home kettlebell program together to promote strength, power and athleticism, whilst ticking all the boxes of human movement.

GREEN Program (for everyone, no matter how old or untrained)

At the very least ensure you perform all the green movements/exercises every single day. If you do that, you’ll be ok (maintaining/re-establishing healthy movement and mobility), for life! Here are some tips on how to facilitate that:

  • Sit on chairs less. Hang out on the floor more. Seriously! You’ll never look back. Buy a nice rug or Morrocan cushion and sit on the floor to relax in the evening. My wife and I have been living without a couch for months and we love it. We especially love how youthful our hips and spines feel as a result.

  • Stand up to work at your desktop/laptop. Stand up to take phone calls. Stand up to read brief documents. Lay your ass on the floor to read meaty articles / books. Sounds crazy? Not ever being able to walk up a flight of stairs or get up from the floor sounds crazy to me. Use it or lose it baby.

  • Take a moment to breathe every day. Two minutes will do but 10 minutes would be perfect. Ideally in the morning, sit/lay on the floor or stand up, close your eyes and focus on nothing but your breath. Squeeze different parts of your abdomen as you exhale. Expand different parts of your lower torso as you inhale.

  • Walk more. Walk to work. Walk to do your grocery shopping and carry them back. Never, ever take the escalator when there are stairs available. Stop playing with your phone and swing your arms so your body learns how to work as a whole again.

  • When brushing your teeth, close your eyes and try standing on one leg. Left leg every morning. Right leg every evening.

  • Take off your shoes and socks and go barefoot as much as possible. Keep some “Yamuna foot wakers” on your kitchen floor and stand on them barefoot several times per day. This will help undo some the damage caused by wearing shoes.

BLUE Program

Pick one of each of the blue movements/exercises (the further down each list, the more advanced they are). Do each one for 30-60 seconds then move onto the next. Make a note of how many reps you manage or how much time you use, and always increase from session to session.

If in doubt, ROLL, CRAWL and do GET BACK UPS / FALL MATRIX, for 15 minutes per day. These (daily) will give you your biggest bang for your buck and keep your movement very healthy for life.

RED Program (for the everyday athlete who knows their way around a kettlebell)

Just make sure you tick each of the seven movements, each week. If you train twice a week you could split the seven movements down into a three and four. Eg.

Session 1: Swings, Goblet squats, sprints. (hinge, squat and gait)

Session 2: Bent press, get ups, military press, pull ups. (rotate, anti-rotate, push, pull)

If you commit to training four times per week you could split the seven movements down as follows.

Session 1: Single leg deadlifts, swings and pistol squats (hinge & squat)

Session 2: Crawling & sprints (gait)

Session 3: Sling shots, windmills and loaded carries (rotate and anti-rotate)

Session 4: Supine press & snatches (push & pull)

How many sets? How many reps? How much rest? That entirely depends on you and your goals. In terms of maintaining healthy youthful movement, sets, reps and rest don’t matter. The most important thing is that you make a program that you actually do, so simple and easy is always the best way to start.

Getting the basics right is paramount – ensure you can squat well with your bodyweight before you add load. Ensure you can maintain a neutral spine when you hinge, before you add load. The quality of your movement and your form is always more important than anything else. If you don’t, injury is a certainty. However, if your movement is good, the heavier the better!

If I had to pick a handful of exercises / movements that everyone should do everyday, forever, and nothing else, to promote longevity and make a healthier planet Earth, they would be:

  1. Getting up and down from the floor, al lot

  2. Rolling on the floor

  3. Crawling on the floor

  4. Get ups

  5. Swings

Strength and honor!

CREDITS: All this is floating around in my brain as a result of attending seminars, courses and reading the books of: Dan John, Perry Nickelston, Pavel Tsatsouline, Steve Maxwell, Steve Cotter, Gray Cook. Big thanks.

Phil McDougall

#Program #Mobility #Design #Kettlebell #kettlebells #humanmovement #Programdesign



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