Exercise of the Week: The Tall Kneeling Series

The External Obliques

(Note: I actually wasn’t going to post this today, but since I have a few extra minutes, here goes!)

In this edition of Exercise of the Week, I want to discuss two of my favorite core training options: The tall kneeling cable chop and the tall kneeling cable lift.

Gray Cook wrote an entire article series about these lifts a few years back, so with the aid of your good friend Google, you might want to check them out.


The tall kneeling cable chop/lift are fantastic exercises because they put our core/trunk “on an island,” and force them to provide stability.  In the split-stance variations, you can receive stability and feedback from the leg which is out in front.  By going from a split-stance to tall kneeling, your core and hips are really forced to work hard to provide stability.

Finally, the tall kneeling variations provide maximal carryover to big-bang exercises that are performed in a parallel stance such as squats, deadlifts, etc.


Set-up in a tall kneeling position with the knees underneath the hips, the body long/tall, and the core gently braced.  From there, I think of a 4-count to produce the movement:

1 – Pull across the body

2 – Press out

3 – Return to body

4 – Return to starting position

While this exercise looks quite simple, it’s really as hard as you make it out to be.  If you really focus on stabilizing via the gluteals and external obliques, while allowing minimal movement through the torso, it’s actually quite challenging.

I typically start clients off with the chop progression for a few weeks, and then transition to the lift variation.

Stay strong



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  1. Mike,
    Do you seek to eventual progress athletes to dynamic standing movements involving rotation, or are things like these chops and lifts movements that can be used throughout and entire lifting career no matter how proficient you get? e.g. you can theoretically always add more load to the stack as long as form is excellent

    • Absolutely – there’s a progression from tall kneeling to parallel stance standing, possibly incorporating a step with drive from the hips, etc.

      Basically, there are tons of options to choose from – but this is a foundational starting point.


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