Unilateral Training for Runners: Why the Half Kneeling Position is Key


As runners we all know it’s important to strength train.  More specifically, it’s important to build unilateral strength.  Most workouts and programs do this by introducing moves like single leg deadlifts and lunges without proper progressions. 

What do I mean by that? Well, if you’re new to strength training and go to do a lunge and find that you’re weebly wobbly all over the place and aren’t able to perform it properly then you probably have a weakness somewhere that needs to be addressed.  In fact, if you find that you have to widen your stance when you squat or perform a plank it’s because you’re trying to stabilize yourself.  

One of the best ways to really identify where the weakness is and help strengthen and improve asymmetries that exist is to work on lateral stability.  

So how does it help to strengthen these weaknesses? Well, it requires you to resist rotation and recruits muscles in the core, hip and if you use the Ultimate Sandbag it also recruits the lats WHICH helps to connect the chains – a crucial component to strength training that is often overlooked. 

As I have mentioned previously in this series, in order to functionally strengthen your entire body and get it in prime running shape, you need to active your lats along with your core and glutes.  Your lats work with your glutes during your gait pattern so making sure they all work together when you’re strength training is incredibly important.  Which is why using the DVRT System in conjunction with the Ultimate Sandbag really makes a world of difference. 

Performing exercises with the Ultimate Sandbag and progressing the using the DVRT System is also key.  Over the last few weeks I have demonstrated how to build the glute bridge and progress the bird dog and side plank.  

As you can guess, today I am going to go over all the ways you can take your training to the next level in the half kneeling position. 
Unilateral Training for Runners: Why the Half Kneeling Position is Key

There are literally a variety of ways and exercises you can perform in the half kneeling position including press outs, overhead presses, lifts and chops.  For the purpose of today’s post, I am going to stick with overhead press variations although it should be noted that chops are incredibly valuable for runners – more on that to come at a later time.  

You might also like:  Ultimate Sandbag Upper Body Workout for Runners

THE HALF KNEELING ARC PRESS

One variation you can perform in the half kneeling position is the arc press, which allows us to integrate more muscles in the trunk and hip.  Since it’s done using the Core Bag (vs. Power) and is a lighter implement, it allows you to build overhead pressing power while working to build unilateral strength.

arc press

How to perform: Grip the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag by the middle and load onto one shoulder.  Assume the half kneeling position so that your front leg is at a 90 degree angle, your back knee is under your hip and your toe is tagged into the ground. Press the bag over the crown of your head using the outside arm then pull or guide with the other arm to the opposite shoulder. Be sure to tuck your hips, keep your shoulders down and back and resist any lateral shifting or swaying with the hips. 

THE HALF KNEELING OVERHEAD PRESS

overhead press

How to perform: Clean the Ultimate Sandbag Power Bag up to your fists.  Assume the half kneeling position so that your front leg is at a 90 degree angle, your back knee is under your hip and your toe is tagged into the ground. Press the bag over the crown of your head. Be sure to tuck your hips, keep your shoulders down and back and resist leaning back and laterally shifting or swaying the hips.

HALF KNEELING OFFSET OVERHEAD PRESS

Like the arc press, this is a single arm exercise.  While this is more advanced as far as weight is concerned it works the body in a slightly different way as it literally forces you to strictly overhead press with one arm – meaning that you’re forced to balance the bag (recruiting all those important muscles) while you’re pressing overhead.

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half kneeling offset overhead press

How to perform: Clean the Ultimate Sandbag Power Bag up to your fists with one hand on the outside handle and the other on the parallel or clean handle.  Assume the half kneeling position so that your front leg is at a 90 degree angle, your back knee is under your hip and your toe is tagged into the ground. Press the bag over the crown of your head. Be sure to tuck your hips, keep your shoulders down and back and resist leaning back and laterally shifting or swaying the hips.

Next week we will continue to work our way building strength from the ground up with a series of new unilateral progressions using the DVRT System.  These progressions will help you to build the unilateral strength you need to not only do more advanced exercises but also help to identify and correct muscle imbalances making you a stronger, faster and more resilient runner. 

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About me

Annmarie is a self proclaimed foodie, avid long distance runner and functional fitness coach. A DVRT Master Trainer, HKC Instructor and food allergy sufferer, she writes about strength training for runners as well as shares allergy friendly recipes for busy athletes.   She is also the owner of Strength In Motion Studio, mother of two sassy sisters and wife to a chronically busy chiropractor.   Subscribe by email for updates to get the latest workouts, advice and recipes straight to your inbox!

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11 Comments

Rachel
Reply November 1, 2017

Strength down the chain is SO important. These workouts are great!

Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy
Reply November 1, 2017

I really undercut the importance of strength training early on in my running, but I noticed such a difference once I added it in. Thanks for sharing!

Laura @ This Runner's Recipes
Reply November 1, 2017

I have used the half kneeling stance for a starting point for shoulder presses and KB halos. I should add those back in!

Kim G
Reply November 1, 2017

I've done most of these moves with weights or kettlebells. They are definitely difficult, but I feel like they help tone muscles that we rarely think about!

Julie @ Running in a Skirt
Reply November 1, 2017

Such good moves here! I need to try these. Thanks for hosting.

Nicole @ F
Reply November 1, 2017

Loving this series so much!

Katie @ Hungry Runner
Reply November 2, 2017

Thanks for sharing so much great knowledge about strength training! I know that my lats are probably neglected and I imagine many other runners are in the same position.

Hannah
Reply November 2, 2017

I usually do these exercises either standing or sitting - need to incorporate more of the half kneeling!

Shathiso
Reply November 3, 2017

Thanks so much for sharing these exercises. I am hopeless when it comes to strength training on my own - but your blog provides such a brilliant resource to point me in the right direction.

Janelle @ Run With No Regrets
Reply November 3, 2017

I've never done any type of strength training using the half-kneeling position. I definitely have balance/stability issues so I need to keep at it!
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Agness of Fit Travelling
Reply November 8, 2017

For me, activating my lats comes really difficult. Thanks to your post, I can learn how to properly kneel and do a strength training using the half-kneeling position. Excellent post, Annemarie!

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