Exercise & Fitness Blog


Beginners Exercise: Sport Ready and Tandem Stance

Posted on March 20 2013 in Gym Instruction

Far too often in beginners exercise routines, I see people using the wrong standing position to complete their exercises. To get the greatest results and to avoid an injury, the stance you use will have a huge impact on your success!

There are basically two types of standing positions used in veteran and beginners exercise programs:

1. Sport Ready Stance: This is the stance position where your legs are shoulder width apart and even with one another. Your toes are straight forward, your knees slightly bent, pelvis is in neutral and your shoulders are down and back.

2. Tandem Stance: This is the stance position where your legs are shoulder width apart, but one leg is slightly forward and the other is slightly back. The rest of your posture is the same as sport ready.

Now, you need to understand the major differences and importance of each so you can choose the right one for the exercise you are doing. When weight training, posture and your ability to maintain a stable base is crucial to get the maximum results and avoid an injury. If your stance is not appropriate to stabilize you in the direction of force, you are limiting the amount of stability you can create to produce results.

Let me give you an example. Picture yourself standing up in a canoe that’s in the water. If I asked you to push something you wouldn’t be able to produce much force because you have no stable platform to push from. Now if you were to stand with your back against a wall, on dry land, and I asked you to push something, you would be able to create much more force.

Well, in cable systems and dumbbells while standing, because you have no stable platform to push from, its kind of like standing up in a canoe. You need to create the stability. One thing I see people do in beginners exercise routines, is lock out their knees and backs to create stability. It’s a sure way to get hurt!

Instead, choose the right stance. In beginners exercise, you will be applying force to your body in two main directions. There is a third rotational plane of movement, but for this post we won’t be discussing it. The two main planes are:

Now, I have made this as simple as possible. For side to side exercises, #1, choose stance position #1 - Sport Ready Position. For forward to backward exercises, #2, choose stance position #2 - Tandem Stance.

Lets look at specific examples in life. If you’re standing on a subway moving forward you wouldn’t use a sport ready stance because every time the train sped up and stopped you would lose your balance. There is a reason why track races start in a tandem stance. It’s because they will be moving forward. Linebackers in football use a tandem stance when blitzing because they are moving forward. It’s an advantage!

What about tandem stance? Tennis players start in sport ready positions because there first move is sideways, Baseball in-fielders choose a tandem stance because their first move is sideways. It’s an advantage.

The opposite is also true. Starting with the wrong stance is a disadvantage! It’s also a way to reduce the efficiency of an exercise and a great way to increase the chances of getting injured.

Do Now: Stand up and create both stances. Start with sport ready stance and have someone gently push you from the front. See how difficult it is to maintain your balance. Now with the same stance, have someone push you from the side and see how much more stable you are when a side to side force is applied.

Now do the same with tandem stance. This time you will see that you have very poor stability side to side and much better stability when a force is applied forward to backwards.

The Takeaway: Choosing between the Sport Ready Stance and the Tandem Stance when exercising in standing is crucial to maximize your results and reduce the chances of getting injured.

Homework Assignment: Go through your workout and identify the exercises where you use dumbbells and cable systems that also require you to stand. Write them down and next to each exercise write down which stance you should use.

If you aren’t sure, don’t guess. You can leave a comment below, or feel free to click on the “Ask an Expert” section of this blog and ask me directly. I’ll give you the answers you need to reduce your risk of injury, and get you results.

If you understand this and plan on applying it to your next workout, great, welcome aboard. If not, I hope you have good health insurance! (wink wink) In exercise what you don’t know CAN hurt you!

  1. Sport Ready Stance: This is the stance position where your legs are shoulder width apart and even with one another. Your toes are straight forward, your knees slightly bent, pelvis is in neutral and your shoulders are down and back.
  2. Tandem Stance: This is the stance position where your legs are shoulder width apart, but one leg is slightly forward and the other is slightly back. The rest of your posture is the same as sport ready.

Side to side. This is called frontal plane exercises. Exercise examples include: lateral raises, shoulder press, single arm horizontal abduction and adduction with a cable column.

Forward to backward. This is called the sagittal plane. Exercise examples include: row, lat pull down, biceps curl, triceps extension, chest press etc.

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