Half vs. Tall Kneeling Exercises

One of the biggest shifts in my philosophy over the past 2-3 years has been an improved focus on efficient core stabilization patterns.

If you’ve followed Stuart McGill’s work, you know he’s a huge proponent of stability training for the core and lumbar spine. But what do you do after you’ve mastered the basics like birddogs and planks?

In my opinion, this is the ideal time to start mastering tall and half-kneeling variations.

I’ll typically start people off in half-kneeling, as it helps address side-to-side imbalances and gives them a bit more external stability. Once they’ve mastered that, we’ll typically move into tall-kneeling variations.

Another way to rationalize which to use is by asking yourself this question:

What does my client most need?

If they want to improve single-leg performance, half-kneeling is superior.

If they want to improve bilateral performance (squats, deads, etc.), tall-kneeling would be a better option.

Here are some basic cues that I like to use when coaching these lifts.

For Half-Kneeling Variations

  • Think about getting tall and tight.
  • Stay tall, squeeze the “cheek.”
  • “Suck” the hip up into the socket.

For Tall-Kneeling Variations

  • Again, think “tall and tight.”
  • Stay tall, squeeze the cheeks.
  • Make a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.

As you can see, there’s a definite focus on the word “tall.” Getting “tall” helps your clients reflexively turn on their abdominals, and promotes a more effective stabilization pattern.

If you’d like to learn more about half-kneeling, tall-kneeling, or core stability training in general, be sure to check out my Bulletproof Knees and Back Seminar DVD’s. They’re on sale for this week only!

Stay strong



Leave Comment

  1. Core strength is very important. It is where all movements of the body originate. Having a strong core makes other exercises and movements much easier. Great video. I will have to try these techniques.

  2. Good stuff Mike. How do you fit squatting into the progression for core stabilization. Obviously a well executed back squat is tremendous for core stability, though not ideal for someone with poor hip mobility or imbalances from side to side. Do you work the squat light alongside these basic exercises, or do you hold off until these have been learned adequately?

  3. With the chop you say take a diaphragmatic breath. Does that mean exhale as you push the bar away and how do you instruct diaphragmatic breathing? Thanks for your time and help.

Leave a Reply

Back to All Posts