Reprogramming Default Positions

All physical prowess in the gym can be distilled down to one thing: posture and position. If you take a second to think about it, there are just a few ubiquitous positions that are repeated all over the gym. The posture of the backsquat, deadlift, press, sandbag carry, and wall ball are all generally the same.

Enough tension is required in all of the above movements to maintain the lumbar curve of the low back. This weds the spine to the hip in a fashion that allows for transfer of force between the upper and lower body. This position generally extended and is also known as the arched body position.

Tumbling, handstand push ups, pull ups, and other mostly bodyweight movements are predominantly reliant on a similar, but different position: the hollow body position. While the shape of the body is generally flexed, the reason for this shape is the same as the arched body position. It creates enough tension to, again, wed the spine to the hip to connect the upper and lower bodies to transfer power. This is known as the hollow body position.

More complex movement patterns can combine these two positions by transitioning from one to the other. Consider the gymnastics kip and a diver’s flips off of a high dive as a combination of both arch and hollow body mastery.

Understanding this foundational view of basic human positions can help us move away from the notion that all functional movements are some unique term worthy of a notecard full of attributes to memorize. In fact, if you can connect the dots, you’ll need to master very few body positions to become proficient in an unlimited number of complex movements.

While half of the reason for me sharing this with you is to enlighten you on the specific subject, the other reason for highlighting this is to challenge your default positions throughout your day. When you reach down to put away your barbell or find yourself driving your car, what are your default positions? If you don’t create habits around these universally applicable positions of arch and hollow body, you may be giving up thousands of free practice reps to reinforce what we’d both like to see show up on game day. As a coach, I observe countless students who virtually never find posture throughout their day. Even bending down to pick up their empty bar in the gym setting includes horrible rounded back positions, yet they are often frustrated when they cannot find and maintain position with a heavy load. My question for you is, why would you be able to?

Let’s start right now. How are you sitting right now as you read this? Default to quality posture and position all day long, and watch your performances in the gym improve.


Logan Gelbrich


4/11/17 WOD

Complete 4 rounds for time of:

1 Standing Sled Pull + Push

3 Bar Muscle Ups

5 Keg Viper Press (AHAP)

– Rest 2 Minutes –