Ballet to Barbells: Movement Starts from the Trunk

I started my athletic life as a dancer. My mom put me in ballet and tap classes at the tender age of five. 18 years later I stopped dancing to focus my energies on judo, adding in capoeira and CrossFit, followed by weightlifting, and then strongman.

I truly beleive that my dance beginnings gave me the foundation to pick up new sports quickly and to be competitive in them quickly as well.

One part of movement theory that was taught to me right from the barre: movement begins from the trunk.

Every arm gesture should start in the chest and flow out to the fingertips. And every leg extension was to start from the pelvis and extend out to the toes.

Here is a video of the entrechat, a quick beat of the feet where you start in a closed stance, jump up and quickly beat your feet into cross each other and then land with the other foot behind. Actually, just watch the video:




Go on and try that yourself. I'll wait.
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I'm betting it felt more like flailing? Were your knees straight? Were the feet switching as tight as the guy in the video? For most people with no ballet background, they tuck their legs and flail their feet around, and hope for the best.

That's because most people are thinking about their feel at the origin of the movement.

I want to challenge you to try it again. But now, you're going to jump in the air the same way you do for a double under: tall torso, long legs, gaze forward. Then, instead of thinking about flapping the feet, you're going to think about beating your upper, inner thigh together.

Try again, I'll wait.
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I'm betting it wasn't great, but it was a much better attempt.

While that move might take quite a bit of practice and coaching to get as effortlessly as the man in the video, to point is that once you focus on originating the movement from closer to the trunk you can actually control it better than when you think about the end of our extremities.

Let's liken this to the overhead squat, or when you catch a snatch.

For many beginners, the balance is wobbly and they often dump the bar forward during the descent or when  standing. I honestly think it's because people are thinking about their arms, how awkward their wrists feel, and where their hands are in relation to their shoulders.

Many times as soon as I tell someone to "think about the support coming from your lats, under your armpits" or "you should feel the support in your back, around your shoulder blades" the bar locks into place. Then, as long as they have the shoulder mobility, they can suddenly support more weight.

So next time you're having trouble locking down a movement or support, try changing the way you think about it. Bring the movement or "energy" back to your trunk and see if you don't find better control.

1) Dem quads
2) His shoulders aren't shrugged up, and look as his lat flex.