Get on Your Knees for a Better Butt and Deadlift
So let’s talk about the badassery that is the
Here it is in all its glory;
Seems simple enough, right?
I know what you’re thinking…is tall-kneeling really that badass??
When performed correctly, and in the right context, it is a very powerful way of developing one’s movement skill and ability to perform the “big” lifts (e.g. deadlift and squat).
And THAT Is badass.
Anyway, this is what I know to be true with regard to tall-kneeling and how it can help your training/coaching;
#1: It has great carryover to deadlifting, squatting, and swinging
I just mentioned this, but let’s go into more detail.
One of the biggest errors that I see with movements like squats and deadlifts is the inability to “stack the torso”.
Stacking the torso is essentially the combination of a controlled rib cage and strong glute contraction. This is seen at the finish of a great squat and deadlift. It’s also present in the proper technique of countless exercises.
Compare this to a lackadaisical torso that possesses a flared rib cage and “sleepy” glutes that don’t know how to fire properly.
This is not an issue easily solved in the middle of a squat or deadlift, so it would be wise to teach/learn it in a more manageable position.
Drop down into tall-kneeling and contract the glutes as hard as you can and brace your abs like Arnold wants to put his fist through your spine.
THAT’S a stacked torso. And I don’t know of a better way to teach this position than tall-kneeling.
#2: It removes the “influence” of the feet, knees, and legs
The cool thing about being on both knees is that it removes the potential for compensations with the lower-body.
Let’s say you were trying to learn a stacked torso standing on both feet. Well now you have to think about the feet and their positioning, the knees and their positioning, as well as the involvement of your legs.
Most people look one of 2 ways in standing when they embark on a fitness program;
Not that mobile
(hip flexors wound tight, preventing full hip extension and glute engagement)
(hips hyperextended and rib cage thrown to the masses, preventing core engagement)
I really don’t think I’ve trained anyone where tall-kneeling wasn’t a benefit in the early-going, in concert with a smart corrective program.
I know, I know, you want to stand and all that. Well, JUST CALM DOWN. You have to earn it. And it is well worth doing movements with flawless technique in the long-run.
It’s like Matt Damon in Jimmy Kimmel’s School of Perfect Acting…you have to earn the right to play humans! For now, be a lamp and other household objects.
#3: It might be the best booty-builder you’ve never heard of
Seriously, you will no doubt feel the glutes in a new way if you have never used a tall-kneeling stance in your program.
Again, it gets the lower-body out of the mix and allows you to focus much more on using the glutes as a stabilizer.
Not to mention, the pure time under tension is something many have not experienced (your glutes ideally are engaged the whole time).
#4: It might be the best hip flexor stretch you’ve never heard of
In addition to bringing the glutes to a new level, most of you out there will probably feel how wicked of a stretch this position is on the front of the legs.
Because the glutes are being forced to engage as much as they can, this is going to put their antagonistic (opposing) muscles on stretch. And the hip flexors just happen to be one of the more wound up areas on most people who sit all day.
#5: Tall-kneeling has tremendous versatility, in terms of exercise selection
There are many exercises that you can perform from this position;
Burpee (yeah…think about it)
#6: As a coach, this can be an effective way to use a dowel as a teaching tool
I’ve met very few clients who instinctively knew how to get to that stacked torso position discussed earlier.
Usually, I’ll see a lot of lumbar hyperextension, so to fix this, I’ll simply hold the dowel length-wise on their spine and tell them to make contact with their back on the stick. It’s a fantastic example of external cueing.
Instantly, there will be more core engagement and the exercise will become more difficult, which is a good thing (it means they’re using the right muscles).
You can use the dowel with any of the exercises mentioned above.
#7: It is not a progression or regression of half-kneeling, it’s just…different
Let’s say you FMS someone and they score horrendously on the Hurdle Step and In-Line Lunge, but nail the Deep Squat and Active Straight-Leg Raise (with all else being equal).
And then you screen someone else who butchers the Deep Squat and ASLR, but smokes the Hurdle Step and In-Line Lunge.
The first person would be better off working in half-kneeling because they clearly have issues working in a single-leg stance.
The second person would benefit more from tall-kneeling because they need work on controlling their torso when the hips are in a symmetrical stance, as in a deadlift.
So it’s not really a matter of one versus the other, it’s just a matter of what the FMS (or whatever other screening process you use) presents.
#8: Tall-kneeling isn’t the best position for severely overweight folk…but that doesn’t mean to avoid it altogether
Unfortunately, tall-kneeling isn’t bullet-proof. It’s not the BEST thing in the world for everyone. But I don’t agree that this population is off-limits from being in this stance.
Naturally, the more weight you carry, the more stress there will be on the knees. But more importantly, the physical act of getting down on the knees and back up repeatedly is the bigger issue. If you find that it is extremely uncomfortable to be on your knees or to get into that position, we need to come up with an alternative.
And that alternative is either padding up the ground like a mofo with multiple mats, which seems to work well and/or performing the exercises near something that can be grabbed onto for support when coming back to standing.
In other words, set-up for success.
Give the tall-kneeling stance some love if you feel like you would benefit from getting back to basics, specifically with regard to improving squat/deadlift technique, or if you want to feel your butt in a whole new way.
As a coach, this stance plays an invaluable role in early-stage programming for clients and helps lay the foundation for long-term greatness.
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