Have you ever coached an athlete in the deadlift or squat that just couldn’t seem to figure out how to sit back and let the posterior chain load up? A rob the forefoot drill is a drill I use with many clients ranging from extremely high-level athletes to the weekend warrior. Here is the premise behind the movement. First, I want to clear ankle mobility issues, which is really quite easy. Put your athlete in half kneeling barefoot and have them lunge forward keeping their heel on the ground, if they can get their shin to be 45 degrees or greater, they don’t have a mobility problem at the ankles. An even easier test is to do a plate squat, where you have an athlete hold a 10 pound plate out in front with their arms locked out and have them squat as deep as they can. If it drastically improves then odds are, it’s a stability issue not a mobility issue. This also explains why a ton of your mobility work has probably not helped too much. So if you’re one of those athletes or coaches who works with athletes and mobility work just doesn’t seem to work no matter how much you do, this post is for you.
First, clear the ankle! Pay attention to the video regarding this, if you have questions on it just shout out in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer everyone. From there, I want to get my athlete to put their heels onto a platform, 4-6 inches works just fine. I want you to take your toes off the ground so you are only able to put weight on the heels and now practice your movement whether it’s a squat or hip hinge. Practice this to the point of mastery, and then add small loads like an empty barbell to 30-40% of your max load. This is not something you necessarily need to go heavy on as it’s more of a warm up exercise rather than the true training exercise. I have even been having great success with reverse lunges being done in this manner to improve performance in single legwork, which is EXTREMELY valuable for any athlete that plays a sport that’s on a field. Think about it from a “functional” point of view. When you run, sprint, change direction, or throw, are you on both legs simultaneously like a squat? I hope the answer is no, otherwise we have much bigger fish to fry. So if you find that you lack athleticism in your sport, add “rob the forefoot” drills into your training or warm ups and reap the benefits of improved movement and performance all at once.
Don’t forget this Wednesday June 10th, Michael Bann will be talking with Strength Matters about Core Control for Strength and Power in Athletics at 7AM Pst/ 10AM EST. You can register for the free live webinar here!