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Progressing the Chop and Lift | Boddicker Performance

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Progressing the Chop and Lift

by on Apr 26th, 2010

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The Chop and Lift are two excellent exercises with roots in neuromuscular rehabilitation that take advantage of PNF patterns, and have become increasingly popular in the fitness and performance world in the past several years. These exercises challenged the “isolation” paradigm of both worlds, and, instead, emphasize the use of diagonal and spiral patterns of the upper body that are more applicable to real-world movement.

The beauty of these two exercises is that they not only can help train but also identify asymmetrical movement proficiencies. Additionally, when used appropriately, they can result in increased motor overflow and CAP with a great deal of control required from the “core.” By using extremities to drive a stable body in one direction or another, to maintain balance, the body is forced to provide a reaction of equal magnitude and opposite in direction. Those with dysfunction present produce too much force one way or another and instead of simple extremity movement, the entire torso moves or the person is unable to maintain balance—a high threshold strategy.

Over the years, I have had considerable debate as to the best way to progress these exercises. I believe now that the answer lies in developmental kinesiology. I am sold that breathing and rolling should be our first proficiencies, but then we must progress from supine and prone postures to those that get us closer to the highest developmental level—standing—by way of transitional postures that first limit global activation then progress.

One thing that you often see in response to inadequate genuine stability is excessive activation of the hip and cervical flexors to gain “core stability.” By putting an athlete into ½ kneeling postures, you are able to take away the hip flexors as a point of stability and by having the athlete turn his head to follow the cable, you are able to shut down excessive cervical tone. Additionally, in this position the athlete cannot effectively use the muscles that drive a great deal of their power—the lower extremity. If your assessment shows asymmetry, it is easy in this position to hammer away at correcting the pattern.

My current next step is to bring the athlete to an “inline” position where the knee of the rear leg and the heel of the front foot are on the same line. This reduces the base of support and challenges M/L stability to a greater extent. Next, the athlete will be using a split grip for a “spiral” pattern.  Once the athlete is proficient on the floor in spiral, I bring the athlete to a tall split position (I once had them go to a low lunge stance, but find this to allow too much global activity) bringing the athlete to standing, and making sure that the lower body provides a stable base upon which the upper extremities can work before progressing to a spiral pattern.  Next I will bring the athlete to a low split position and then, finally, a single leg stance position.

How do you choose to progress these lifts? Where do you stop using them? Does it even make sense to chop or lift in standing postures?

Best regards,

Carson Boddicker

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Leave a Comment »3 Comments
  • Patrick Ward April 26, 2010

    In the progression to split standing, one thing I have tried it having the individual stand in the in-line stance, and place a light ball (like a ball you would get at target for kids to play 4-square with….do kids play that game anymore? What a great game for building reaction time and athleticism!). I have them sequeeze that ball between the hamstring of the front leg and the quad of the back leg, as a way to lock the pelvis in, so that the client can work on keeping tight there and driving the upper extremity through the PNF pattern.


  • Sam April 26, 2010

    Any chance we could get a video of the single leg version. I’ve tryed that in the past but found it too impractical and hard to coach with very large groups. I reserved it more for semi-private or private training sessions. . .

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