Bend The Knee

Yup, a Game of Thrones reference in a post about being in a half kneeling position.  One, because kneeling involves bending ones knee and two, because I’m just now getting into the show and am currently on season 4.  Yea, I have a long way to go.


One of simplest way to change an exercise and coincidentally make it slightly more challenging is to use a half kneeling position.  For the most part, our choices in exercises involve sitting, standing, or laying down on our backs.  But rarely do we challenge ourselves from a kneeling position.  Through kneeling, we bring in more stability challenges that will make “easy” exercises slightly more challenging.

Starting Position

No matter what the exercise is, there are a few key points to remember.  You want to stay up tall, keeping the ribs over the hips, and putting pressure into the ground using both feet.  You’ll also be creating tension through the glutes and core muscles so that you don’t fall over.

Why Do We Kneel?

The half kneeling position exposes the lack of symmetry between left and right sides.  We are usually only comfortable using one side of our body, or more comfortable turning to one side over the other.  Ask any rotational athlete, whether it’s a golfer, baseball player, hockey player, etc.   Let’s get more personal.  Take a look at yourself and your own training.  You most likely have a preference as to which side you use to press, pull or rotate, or perhaps a side that feels stronger or more capable.


How to Use Them?

While this isn’t a full list of all the exercises you can do in a half kneeling position, these are the one’s that I use most often.

  • Pallof Press– These are a great anti-rotation exercise, yet for the most part you only see them when in the standing position.  These further challenge core and hip stability than standing.

  • Landmine Press– If you lack overhead range of motion at the shoulder due to a mobility issue or an injury that prevents overhead movements, landmine presses can be a great alternative.  We get to do a little a vertical pressing without compromising in other areas. Additionally, the half kneeling position eliminates compensations from the legs or lower back when pressing overhead.   If you have good shoulder mobility, you can progress to dumbbell presses overhead.

  • Pull/Row Variations– We can also do horizontal and vertical pulling exercises from a half kneeling position that switches u

  • Chops & Lifts– A great teaching tool to maintain stability through the hips while rotating the thoracic spine, chops and lifts crush your core.  There is one subtle difference between the two.  A chop goes from a high position to a low one, where a lift is from low to high.


Added Bonus: Being in a half kneeling position can put the quads and hip flexors on a stretch, which could help with your mobility and flexibility. Progressing through these positions is ideal for those coming off some sort of injury, namely back and/or shoulder.  It reintroduces them to the idea of core stability, and synchronizing the glutes and abs.  Mostly for coaches and trainers; Both positions are a great assessment tool to see how much control a client has in bilateral and unilateral positions.

Adding stance variation to your exercise selection only results in greater gains as well as new adaptations for your nervous system to adapt to. In short, a stronger, smarter, more stable body.


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