Foundational strength refers to strength and stability surrounding the major joints in the body, typically involving smaller muscle groups. Improving foundational strength improves your overall mechanics and creates a stronger base from which to build upon.
Starting an exercise program without first addressing foundational strength can increase the risk of injury and limit your potential for strength gains causing a plateau in your fitness goals.
This recommendation also pertains to physical therapy clients recovering from chronic pain, injury or surgery. An exercise program should start with a good foundation upon which to build, and as the foundational strength improves, higher-level exercises are initiated with greater overall outcomes.
While working on foundational strength may not be as fun or glamorous as plyometrics and Olympic lifting, to get the results you are after, both in the fitness world and during your rehabilitation, you can’t skimp on this part of the program.