I was glad to see that four of my basic exercises were listed by Lou Schuler as foundational: squat, deadlift, pushup, and row. The other foundational one for me is the overhead press. A little more from him:
Every good training program is based on bedrock principles like progressive overload. You give your body a stimulus. You repeat the stimulus an optimal number of times. And then you give your body the opportunity to recover from it. Every good lifter eventually learns how to apply the principles in a way that works for him or her, but it always starts with the basics: learn the movements, apply the movements, build on the movements.
Every bad training program ignores these fundamentals, but it ignores them in a unique way. Too much stimulus with too little recovery. Too little stimulus with too much recovery. Poor exercise selection for the individual’s abilities and goals.