Build Athletic Strength with Half-Kneeling Exercises

A forgotten position in the fitness & sports performance industry is the half-kneeling position. Learn what it can do for you.

The true measure of strength can be assessed throughout a continuum of positions, planes and actions. More importantly, synergistically connecting regions of the body to work as a unit exponentially raises the expression of strength, which has the ability to translate into epic performances and injury prevention.

One of the forgotten positions in the fitness and sports performance industry is the half-kneeling position. Though having one knee on the ground seems simple, it is capable of linking up body segments, stabilizing the trunk and raising the strength ceiling of any athlete.

Here's how to get started with half-kneeling exercises.

The Half-Kneeling Position

The half-kneeling position is considered a developmental milestone in human growth and movement. Once a baby has the ability to move from a side-seated position to a tall kneeling position (with both knees on the ground), the next phase before walking on two feet is the half-kneel.

The half-kneeling position loads one hip in a flexed position while the other stays relatively neutral. For a move that is deceivingly simple to the eye, true mastery of this position yields huge benefits in performance and long term health of the spine, hips and lower body in general.

Don't worry, you don't need to be an infant to get back to the basics and master the half-kneeling position. If you use the loaded strength series movements below in a strong half-kneeling position, you will be on your way to stabilizing your hips and core and reaping the benefits of foundational strength movements.

Half-Kneeling Exercises

Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Dumbbell Press

Coaching Points

  • Kneel on the same side as the hand holding the dumbbell.
  • Hold your hand in a neutral position with your palm facing in.
  • Dynamically move the dumbbell from a front-racked position at the shoulder to a fully extended position at the elbow.
  • Squeeze your shoulders and arms at the top of the movement to maximize tension and stabilize the entire body.
  • Control the dumbbell down to the original position and pause at the bottom before moving to the next repetition.

Half-Kneeling Banded Row

Coaching Points

  • Place a resistance band around a sturdy object at shoulder level in the kneeling position.
  • Dynamically drive your elbows back while squeezing your shoulder blades down and back at the peak of the contraction.
  • Hold the contraction for one second to maximize tension before slowly controlling your hands back to the base of the band and extending your elbows.
  • Keep tension throughout your shoulders to maintain stability.
  • Alternate the grounded knee on every other set.

Half-Kneeling Banded Pull-Down

Coaching Points

  • Place the band around an elevated surface aligned with your shoulders.
  • Grab the handles of the band with your palms facing away from you. This will target your lats and other back muscles.
  • Dynamically pull the band down and squeeze your lats to maximize tension throughout your back at the peak of contraction. Hold this position for one second before slowly letting your arms rise up overhead and into an extended elbow position.
  • Keep tension throughout your shoulders to maintain stability.
  • Alternate the grounded knee on every other set.

Half-Kneeling Banded Pallof Press

Coaching Points

  • Kneel on the knee closest to the base of the band.
  • Place the band at shoulder-height and perpendicular to your arms when they are extended forward.
  • Bring your hands together and intertwine your fingers around the band.
  • The central position is directly in front of your sternum. Don't rest your hands on your chest.
  • Extend your arms slowly and under control, holding tension throughout your trunk, shoulders and hips during the dynamic portion of the movement.
  • Hold for a second with both arms extended before controlling your hands back to the starting position.

Half-Kneeling Workout

Perform grouped exercises in superset fashion. For double-arm movements, alternate your grounded knee every other set.

  • 1A. Half-Kneeling Banded Pulldown - 4x12 @ 30
  • 1B. Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Dumbbell Press - 4x10 @ 30
  • 2A. Half-Kneeling Banded Row - 4x15 @ 30
  • 2B. Half-Kneeling Pallof Press 4x8 @ 30

For a bonus exercise check out Damian Lillard's Half-Kneeling Med Ball Throws.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: EXERCISE | PRESS