Athletic Stance: Help Reduce Weightlifting Injuries

/ 7.13.11 / Medically Reviewed

Definition: What is an Athletic Stance?

An athletic stance is a standing position which allows you to maximize your strength, power, and speed, while decreasing risk of injury. Athletic stance can vary depending on the sport, or activity. For example, an athletic stance in basketball involves standing on the balls of your feet, placing your feet wider than shoulder width apart, with a 90 degree angle bend in your knees. The athletic stance in skiing on the other hand requires that your feet be placed much closer together with less of a bend in the knees. The standard athletic stance in weight lifting is somewhere in between the two.

Athletic Stance Examples

Athletic Stance During Weight Lifting: 5 Tips

In human movement mechanics, everything is connected. Your body is basically one big muscle that you want to keep structurally strong throughout any athletic movement. These 5 tips will help you use perfect form when using the athletic stance every time.

1) Head Straight Ahead

Keeping your head straight will help you prevent the rounding of your back and will keep your body structurally strong.

2) Shoulders Back, Chest Out

Similar to keeping your head straight, keeping your shoulders back and chest out will prevent your back from rounding and muscle imbalances to arise. Weightlifting with poor posture can lead to serious issues down the line.

3) Knees Slightly Bent

When lifting anything over your head, this is the most important tip of all. Keeping your knees bent also prevents the rounding of your lower back.

4) Keep Low Back Flat

Your lower back should be flat to slightly arched. Never round your back while lifting weights. It’s VERY dangerous and a recipe for a slipped, or herniated disk.

5) Weight Balanced On Feet

Your body-weight should be distributed evenly across your foot as you start a lifting exercise.

Athletic Stance Exercise Examples

Athletic Stance: Standing Overhead Dumbbell Press

As you can see in the first photo, I’m following the 5 preceding tips (i.e. head straight, shoulders back & chest out etc.) and my shoulders are directly in line with my feet. In the second photo, my back is excessively arched because my knees are not bent, which forces my shoulders to push well behind the line of my feet.

Athletic Stance Dumbbell Overhead Press

Athletic Stance: Barbell Biceps Curl

Similar to the Overhead Dumbbell Press, in the second photo I’m excessively arching my back because I’m trying to lift the weight while keeping my knees straight. The other issue is that keeping your knees straight forces you to use more body english as you lift the weight, which takes the work off the targeted muscles and leads to more injury.

Athletic Stance Barbell Biceps Curl

Athletic Stance: Barbell Hang Clean

The photos below show me catching the bar in the barbell hang clean. In a true olympic lift with more weight, I would catch the bar much lower to the ground. Either way, the starting position is using the weightlifting athletic stance and throughout the movement, my knees are bent to help catch the weight.

Athletic Stance Barbell Hang Clean

If you had to take one thing away from this entire article, it’s to bend your knees as you are lifting. Bending your knees will help self correct the other movement mechanics, especially with keeping your shoulders back as you lift.

Hope that was helpful and let me know if you have any questions.



Comments are closed 30 days from the publication date.

  1. profile avatar
    Mary Jul 15, 2011 - 10:51 #

    Great presentation and information. Even though I do not lift very heavy weights, these tips have definitely helped me with the weights I use. I find my workout much more effect and my body more stable. Thanks.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry Jul 18, 2011 - 13:54 #

      @Mary – Happy it was helpful. The key really is to bend the knees as you are lifting. I do agree the body feels a lot more stable while using an athletic stance.

  2. profile avatar
    Hank Jul 15, 2011 - 13:00 #

    The key to repeated exercising is to at first have the right form. Your post is perfect for emphasizing the importance of bending your knees. Sounds simple but cannot be overstressed. Very good and important post. The photos highlight the stress that can occur to the lower back.