It's not world domination. I want to clear that right now. Move on. Go home.
It could be visit your grandma more often. Or even work on your high five accuracy, cause you know. Nothing kills the beat more than a badly executed high five.
It's just.. It can't happen ok. Fix it.
But it's not that, this is about mastering the one foundational stance that transfers into almost all explosive movement. It's a stance that we need to pay more credence to with respect to speed and agility. A bit of a blink and you'll miss it stance.
Have a look.
Oh look, there it is.
Oh, there it is again.
So yeah, what about it?
Aptly named of course. Here's the general definition.
"Athletic Stance is a standing position that allows you to maximise your strength, power or speed in any direction."
The three defining ingredients for this stance is a hip hinge, low centre of gravity, positive shin angles and your best game face.
Now that we've clearly defined the stance, next question has got to be - How do we maximise it?
The first thing has got to be awareness. If you do not even get into these positions by default, then it stands to reason that you need to groove the motor pattern first. Assuming you have plentiful amounts of ankle dorsiflexion and hip flexion, you're mostly good to go.
Then you need to actively go into a hip hinge position and control it. By owning that position with just your body weight, incorporating the position into your training drills such as foot work, ladder drills, sprints and jumps. That is the first thing.
A cool way to groove the hip hinge
A successful hip hinge means you're not substituting with spinal flexion. Like this.
So we need to groove that bad boy. Here's two of my favourite drills for developing the hinge.
Dowel Hip hinge
Tall Kneeling Kettlebell Hinge
Awesome right? Let's say you've got those things down. Next up is how do I take the athletic stance and turbo charge it with strength and power so I can explode into action even faster?
With shit loads of stuff, as it happens. Let's look at the big rocks.
The deadlift is frankly hip hinge 101. Of which there are variations of the deadlift which can be sprinkled in to accommodate the finer points of individuality. Though I'll share the main ones below.
If you'd like to read more on the Deadlift such as a quick guide, read this.
I'm ripping just shy of twice my body weight here, if I can do that, what happens when you remove the load? You'll have more than ample amounts of strength and control in the athletic stance with just my body weight alone.
I'm not saying that you need to train at your 1RM. That's called testing your strength. It's perhaps more ideal to hover in the region of 75%-85% with 6-10 reps to develop your strength. That assumes you're competent in the lift, and you've already laid down an endurance baseline.
It also behooves me to state that, ideally? I want to be using a trap bar.
There's no rule that states it must be a barbell. It doesn't. It's a more complicated lift in that you need to rip the load from in front of your centre of gravity. That places greater stresses on the lower back. With the Trap (Or Hex) bar you can stand right in the middle, allowing you to align the load to your centre. Minimising stress on the lower back.
Which is ok might I add. Stress after all is exactly what leads to tissue adaptations. Just note, it doesn't need to be a barbell, nor does it need to be from the floor, either.
Kettlebell Alternating Suitcase Deadlift
These are some deadlifting shenanigans I can get behind. Because, having an offset load will nurture your ability to distribute forces from left to right, right to left. Moreover with a suitcase deadlift, you can get the loads aligned with your centre line. Making for a more mechanically efficient and back friendly lift.
If you're finding compensations such as dropping your shoulder to reach down, or swaying your hips away from the weight, or your knee alignment goes tits up, or the moon explodes. Then you stand to gain some stability control from this variation.
Single Leg Deadlifts
What you can do bilaterally, you must be able to do with one leg.
If you can deadlift your body weight, but you can't perform an unloaded single leg deadlift? That's a big problem. The silver lining? A great big juicy low hanging fruit is within your grasp.
This particular variation places a much greater onus on the hip stabilisers to keep everything tracking nicely. The more you struggle with this, the more you need it.
To have a lack of single leg stability in martial arts is tantamount to sailing around the world without the bloody sails.
You'd be a right silly sausage.
What about other stuff?
It's all about incorporation. A prime example would be plyometric training.
Box Jumps have got Athletic Stance written all over them.
Why oh why, would you want to perform box jumps by way of just lifting your legs up? You need to squat down into that stance and explode.
Funny because, I wrote about that shit too. Plus some super fun variations.
This is a rotational stability core exercise, sure. Though the best stance to assume? Athletic.
Throwing in a conditioning element makes for a bad ass way to build those legs. Once again, hip hinge, low centre of gravity, positive shin angles.
I'd do my own video, but somehow - egregiously - my current gym doesn't offer a sled. (Or a trap bar for that matter)
Wrapping it up
It's really straight forward. If you want to move quickly, efficiently, powerfully, then you need to own that stance. Plus, develop your overall strength baselines in this stance.
Next time you jump to smash that board at head height, or you're sparring, or you're fighting Ip Man, you're going to feel the difference.
That difference is going to open up a whole new avenue of possibilities and potential. You'll still lose to Ip Man, but that's cool.
Focus on what you can do ;-)
What if I want you to take over my strength & conditioning programming, delivered online through an easy to use app?
I'm opening the doors for Online Training geared towards martial artists on the 10th December! With only 12 spots available, you want to act fast.
Go here to learn more and to send any questions my way.