When it comes to lower body training we have a ton of options to choose from.
We could go with many of the barbell movements like deadlifts, squats, RDL’s and weighted glute bridges. We also have almost unlimited possibilities of single leg work like lunges, step ups, single leg RDL’s and split squats.
Now each of the exercise type that I have listed above has their own benefits in terms of leg strength and hip stability. It is also helpful that most of those exercises can be loaded with as much or as little weight as you need.
There is one specific exercises that gets most clients started with the moans and groans. The funny part is that most people do not need to load it with much more than 10 pounds in each hand.
I am talking about the Overhead Kneel to Stand.
This is an exercise that I believe I did as part of one of Eric Cressey’s products. I am guessing it was the High Performance Handbook.
My first impression of them was that they were a pain in the butt. Now do not let my negative attitude fool you, this exercise is super beneficial.
Any time someone has to transition from the floor to standing is going to be good for strength, stability, and mobility.
The OH Kneel to Stand is a self limiting exercise, which means that it cannot be done incorrectly. Start from both knees and stand up, anything less means that the exercise was not completed.
When there is something definite like start from kneeling and stand up, there is no need to worry about range of motion or depth, etc. because it is built in.
This exercise also works on core stability and hip mobility. By holding light weights overhead, we are activating the core to resist extension. When we move the hip to start standing, we are improving its range of motion. When the core is doing its job, it removes potential restrictions in hip mobility. The hip can now move freely.
Holding the weights overhead trains shoulder stability. Be sure to squeeze the shoulder blades back and down to activate the stabilizers. Keep the weights light because there is absolutely no benefit to striving for something heavy. Even if you are able to handle 25 pound dumbbells, they are only 25 pounds.
Any time we are getting up and down from the ground, it is going to get the heart rate going. This means the exercise would fit it great both on its own or as part of a circuit.
Since we cannot really load this exercise up it is always going to be more of an accessory movement. Squats, deadlifts, and heavier single leg work is still going to be the primary movements to improve lower body strength. Towards the end of the workout, adding the OH Kneel to Stand can be helpful for the benefits that I brought up earlier.
It might not be as challenging as a max deadlift but it will exhausting in a different kind of way. Give it a try to figure out why people aren’t pleased when this is in the program.
Now, not everyone is going to be able to easily perform this exercise. One way to make it easier is to remove the overhead aspect. Start without weights and go from kneeling to standing.
A regular box step up may also be a good option to train the legs to be strong enough to step up off of the floor if needed.