If you are not familiar with half-kneeling training, you are missing out on a lot of training and performance benefits, including hip mobility, hip and trunk stability, glute activation, reducing hip flexor and lumbar extensor tone, repositioning the diaphragm and pelvic floor, and transferring power between the lower and upper body.
Sound complicated? Just know that all those benefits result in an enhanced ability to move fluidly with speed and agility. You will also reduce your risk of sustaining an injury.
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Here’s a breakdown of how these exercises work:
Hip and Trunk Stability
To reap the benefits of performing exercises in a half-kneeling stance, it is critical to set up correctly. First, get into a solid 90-90 stance—i.e., position both your up and down knees at 90-degree angles. The goal during half-kneeling drills is to stabilize your down knee at the hip by engaging your glute and using your abs to control your ribs, trunk extension, and trunk rotation. If you have a lot of rib flare/trunk extension or poor hip stability, the half-kneeling position can improve all of that in one—like killing two birds with one stone.
In a world of technology and screens the keep us glued to our seats, many athletes and individuals have decreased hip mobility, increased anterior pelvic tilt, and increased lumbar extensor tone. In a half-kneeling position, you immediately get the hip on the side of your bottom knee out of flexion and into extension. Then your glute engages to stabilize your hip and control its extension while also stretching your hip flexors. If you have a lot of hip flexor tone, the half-kneeling position is crucial for reducing it, while improving your hip mobility and increasing glute activation. This is very important for the ability to run faster, jump higher and transition more power from your lower to your upper body.
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The Main Goal Is Still Stability
Most youth athletes spend a large amount of time performing skill and speed work and very little time performing strength and stability work. This often leaves them with skills and speed, but without the ability to optimally control their movement. The half-kneeling position is a great way to teach them to properly engage their core to control extension, rotation and side-to-side movement. Plus, it carries over directly to the field or court, since it simulates attributes needed to successfully stabilize, plant, cut and decelerate.
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Half-kneeling exercises are also a great way to progress basic pressing exercises, rows and core stability exercises. For example, half-kneeling cable hold and chop variations are great for promoting rotary trunk and hip stability, and half-kneeling rows or pressing variations are great for increasing the difficulty of the movement, while also including a trunk and hip stability component.
View the setup and exercise video in the player above to help you start taking advantage of the performance benefits of half-kneeling training.