Workout Tips

Stagger Your Stance for New Gains

This highly under-utilized stance blends bilateral and unilateral training for new challenges and new gains.

Stagger Your Stance for New Gains

Bilateral squatting has been touted the king of all exercises with the conventional deadlift a close second (depends who you ask). But what if you can’t squat ass to grass with a perfectly neutral spine and actually turn the squat into a half squat, half good morning? What if your pelvis tucks under at the bottom of your squat? What if your feet collapse and your knees cave inward? If you’re like most, you either have limitations in mobility, flexibility or strength, which is preventing you from squatting with optimal form and optimal depth.

Introducing the staggered stance.

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First introduced to me at the Dynamic Variable Resistance Training Level 1 and Level 2 Certification course hosted by Josh Henkin, the staggered stance is a hybrid bilateral and unilateral stance where one foot is moved back so that the toes of the back foot (with heel in the air) are aligned with the heel of the front foot. The “working” leg is the lead leg while the opposite foot helps with balance.

The staggered stance introduces single leg training while maintaining stability. The benefit of the slight split in the stance is that the hips are allowed more freedom to move. Plus, this stance can help trainees squat deeper when ankle mobility is limited. This unique stance can help you squat deeper, thus making you use your muscles through a greater range of motion. Plus, this stance works well for hip hinge exercises like the Romanian deadlift and good morning in that balance can still be maintained while the emphasis is more unilateral.

The Staggered Back Squat

Staggered Back Squat

Place the bar on your back in the high bar back position. Stagger your stance with your right foot back and your left foot forward. Your right heel should be off the ground with the toes of your right foot inline with the heel of your left foot. Push your hips back and start to squat down. Keep your left foot flat and stop once your hip crease finishes below your knee crease. Return to the standing position by primarily using your left leg. Perform desired reps and switch legs.

The Staggered Front Squat

Staggered Front Squat

Place the bar on the front of your shoulders in the front-racked barbell position. If you do not have enough wrist and shoulder flexibility, you can use the genie grip to hold the bar across your shoulders (not shown). Stagger your stance with your right foot back and your left foot forward. Your right heel should be off the ground with the toes of your right foot inline with the heel of your left foot. Push your hips back and start to squat down. Keep your left foot flat and stop once your hip crease finishes below your knee crease. Return to the standing position by primarily using your left leg. Perform desired reps and switch legs.

The Staggered Romanian Deadlift

Staggered RDL

Here is a variation of the Romanian Deadlift that combines the bilateral stance with more emphasis on the posterior chain of the lead leg. This variation is great for isolating the lead leg during the Deadlift and also great in that balance can still be kept compared to a true single leg Romanian Deadlift. Hold a barbell in front of your thighs with a double overhand grip. Stagger your stance with your right foot back and your left foot forward. Your right heel should be off the ground with the toes of your right foot inline with the heel of your left foot. Push your hips back as you hinge forward. Keep the bar close to your legs and keep your chest puffed out and shoulders back. Feel tension develop in your left hamstrings. Once you reach roughly 90-degrees of hip flexion, return to the standing position. Perform desired reps and switch legs.

The Staggered Good Morning

Staggered Good Morning

This exercise is similar to the Staggered Romanian Deadlift in that more emphasis is placed on the lead leg. This variation is great for isolation the lead leg during the Good Morning. Place the bar on your back in the high bar back position. Stagger your stance with your right foot back and your left foot forward. Your right heel should be off the ground with the toes of your right foot inline with the heel of your left foot. Push your hips back as you hinge forward. Keep your chest puffed out and shoulders back. Feel tension develop in your left hamstrings. Once you reach roughly 90-degrees of hip flexion, return to the standing position. Perform desired reps and switch legs.

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