Active Foot Stabilisation is often overlooked and under utilised. Creating stability from the ground up during compound barbell training is absolutely essential.
My name is Brogan Williams and I am a Powerlifter/Strength Coach from Auckland, New Zealand. Thank you for clicking the link and heading over for a quick read, I hope you get something out of today’s blog.
I recently received a question about foot position and stability when performing compound movements, mainly focussing on the squat/bench/deadlift. Foot stability is extremely important and often overlooked in the sport of powerlifting or strength training. I wanted to touch on this and share my approach when it comes to creating maximal stability from the ground up.
WHAT IS ACTIVE FOOT STABILISATION?
Active foot stabilisation is a technique used to create maximal stability throughout the foot when performing heavy compound lifts. This is commonly known as ‘Tripod Foot’. By prioritising 3 points of contact between your foot and the floor you can evenly distribute your body + bar weight to amplify stability throughout the body. Just like a tripod provides balance for a stand, your feet and provide balance to your body, which in return enhances general stabilisation. This is not only used in strength sports but as a technique to help people with flat feet.
TENSION/TIGHTNESS + STABILITY
“The weight on the bar is not the only thing you should worry about…”
Instead, you should focus on these 3 things (TENSION/TIGHTNESS + STABILITY), as they are largely responsible for ‘good technique’.
You see, when lifting large amounts of weight we want to prioritise tension within the body to aid in force production and help withstand the transfer of force. When assessing my clients I often see excessive pronation of the foot, too much lateral pressure or the lifter rocking forward and back on their feet before they drop into the hole of a squat. Often you can see their toes moving and sometimes their heels shifting around… this is not ideal.
Force is emphasised through tightness, tension and stability.
I often talk about using as many tools at your disposal as you can to ensure maximal strength and safety in a lift. This is a prime example of a tool a lot of people either don’t know about or don’t know how to use. You can increase your full body stability by utilising this technique. Your feet are the key point of contact when producing force in 2 out of 3 of the main 3 powerlifting compound lifts.
THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE:
Let’s drill down on Squats as an example:
So often we hear these blanket cues thrown around…
“Sit back on your heels”
“Spread the floor”
“Push off your quads’
While I appreciate the effort to try and correct a lifters form, these types of cues can throw off or ruin a beginner/intermediate stability from the ground up. Don’t get me wrong, cues are important and the cues listed above can absolutely be helpful and utilised to correct form when assigned to a specific lifter or athlete. However, when a lifter lacks intentionality with foot stability a simple cue can shift the lifters foot pressure interrupting the tripod foot technique. By spreading the floor you can create too much lateral pressure on the foot, by sitting on the heels you lose front foot stability and by cueing to ‘push off the quads’ you can cause the lifter to fall onto their toes and lean forward in effort to engage the quad. In all 3 of these examples we are losing one common thing. Stability. It is incredible important that we address the foot stability first and then apply cues that intentionally help the athletes specific needs.
Learn how to apply active foot stabilisation as a fundamental before applying specific cues.
TIPS FOR ACTIVE FOOT STABILISATION:
– Create 3 points of contact between your foot and the floor
– These 3 points of contact are the centre of the calcaneus, head of the 5th metatarsal and head of the 1st metatarsal.
– Try distribute your weight evenly through those 3 points.
– Externally rotate your feet to create friction with the floor.
– Use a solid heeled shoe (no soft soles)
– Start practicing now!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the blog. This is something I see many people over look and I truely believe that if you implement this into your technique and use it as a tool, you are setting yourself up for a win and securing longevity within your strength training.
Written & Edited by Brogan Williams