| Article written on April 7th, 2015 at 6:30pm | Follow Garrett on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram |
Tall kneeling, half kneeling, standing or seated? That is the question. In the majority of overhead lifting and rehabilitation programs, we rely on some type of external structure for support, i.e. an upright bench. But, why? The lower body and spine typically don’t have the luxury of being supported during upper body functional movements. That is why incorporating different positions, such as tall kneeling, half kneeling, and standing, into your program will better carryover to everyday life and athletics.
The tall kneeling position is one of the best starting points to increase demand on the core and hips. By kneeling on both knees, it is essential to engage the glutes and drive the hips forward. We don’t want to sit back on the heels, but get into an engaged position where the knees, hips, and spine are all aligned vertically. By doing so, we utilize the gluteus maximus and core stabilizers to prevent any unwanted movement.
The half kneeling position takes core and hip stability to the next level. Now, instead of having a level base of support, we increase demand on hip stability by placing the body in a lunge position on the ground. Half kneeling is more unstable and requires a greater degree of frontal plane stability. The set-up remains the same as the tall kneeling position above, but now place one foot forward so that the ankle is under the knee. Continue to engage the gluteus maximus and the core, but now keep the legs in a parallel alignment by using the hip stabilizers.
After you have mastered the two kneeling positions, standing is the next step. This sounds simple, but is actually quite a challenge to do properly. Place the feet hip width apart and keep the spine up tall. It is common, especially during overhead pressing, to get into an extended, or excessively arched, back position. Gluteus maximus and core contraction will help counteract that. Or, squeeze the abdominals and the butt at the same time. By standing, we now have to control each joint by maintaining full-body stability and control.
Now that you have several options other then the ever too common seated position, start at the bottom (literally) and progress up. It’s not just about each position, but mastering the form while progressing the weight. You’ll notice that you cannot lift nearly as much weight in these positions when compared to the seated/supported positions, that doesn’t make you a bad person. But, realize that lifting the most weight possible doesn’t have as much value as teaching your body how to create and maintain stability while performing some type of upper body movement. Unless you are a bodybuilder then by all means use back support, isolate muscles, and lift heavy.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART