The Benefits of B-Stance Liftsby Jen Sinkler
When things go a little cockeyed, a little sideways, is often when things start to get interesting in that real questions begin to be answered, sometimes swiftly. There is no automation option: You get to figure out how to navigate a new path, outside of your usual bounds, instantly. You get to comprehend yourself in new space.
Do you say It’s awkward, I hate it, I don’t wanna won’t wanna do it again.
Fine. That’s an option, and choice and pace matter.
Do you do it again?
What about again?
Does it soon become one just more way you can travel? Another option you understand more deeply, one more question answered? Might you want to become even stronger and more proficient in that direction? What about others? How much do you learn about how you are in different scenarios as you go?
When it comes to exercise, we’re likely not just doing a thing to say that we did it (although for the hell or fun of it is a perfectly reasonable reason imo). We’re more likely doing a thing because it is useful or enlivening to us in some way. It connects and strengthens us in ways we like, that make us feel a tug more attuned, prosperous in our bodies.
This is exactly why I like a lot of offset, staggered-stance, get-bent lifting options: They hold so much information for us.
The Benefits of B-Stance
B-stance, or kickstand, variations involve keeping your weight overwhelmingly to one leg while keeping the ball of the foot of the other in at least light contact with the ground, out and off to one side where it can provide a little help in the balance department while not interfering with the main event.
Like fully unilateral lifts such as the single-leg Romanian deadlift or skater squat, B-stance lifts readily reveal differences in strength, movement patterns, and restrictions from side to side. This is to be expected: We’ve all lived lopsided lives, influenced by how we are assembled and the ways we work, play, live. You can then use this information to explore making gentle adjustments from rep to rep, set to set, training session to training session, in search of what suits you just right. (What exactly that means will vary from person to person, and remember that perfect symmetry is not a thing.)
So it’s easier to balance in a kickstand position than fully on one leg, but you’re still building your balance in a big way because it’s mostly single-sided. The vast majority of your weight should remain in your working leg, though exactly how much you use your kickstand leg will depend on the lift, the person, and their proximity to max weight lifted.
The emphasis on one side mimics the single-leg strength important to many sports, and developing more unilateral strength and control benefits daily activities such as climbing or descending stairs or many types of locomotion.
This stance is also fantastic for hypertrophy (muscle growth), stabilizing and strengthening the hips, and building the glutes.
In other words, B-stance lifts provide the stiff challenge of single-leg training with a built-in feeling of safety, a friend standing just behind you. Your kickstand leg basically works as a spotter, providing an option to press through it, should you need to. A balance buddy, if you will.
This boost in balance that comes from the kickstand means you’re able to lift heavier weight with more confidence and less wobble than fully unilateral versions. In terms of just how heavy, somewhere between heavier than unilateral versions and not as heavy as bilateral versions. As always, start using light-for-you weight and work your way up over a period of time without compromising form.
This stance suits a number of different lifts, from variations of the deadlift to the squat to the hip thrust to the swing. The idea is the same in each: one leg is the main gig while the other plays a small but important role.
Below, I’ll cover two different foot position options and the basic pattern for the squat, and then we’ll add a twist to it.
Tip: On the first few reps, perform the movement unweighted. Shuffle your kickstand foot around a bit until it’s positioned in the manner most comfortable for you for that lift. For many, that will be feet approximately hip-width distance apart, kickstand foot some number of inches behind you (anywhere from just behind to about a foot), potentially angled outward slightly. (Whichever angle you choose, make sure the knee tracks in the same direction as the toes.)
Option 1: Bodyweight B-Stance/Kickstand Squat (Toes Front)
Option 2: Bodyweight B-Stance/Kickstand Squat (Toes Out)
- Shift your weight into your front foot and bend the other knee slightly. This is your starting position.
- Maintaining a mostly upright torso, initiate the movement at the hips and knees simultaneously and sink your hips downward as far you are comfortably able without letting your back round.
- Keeping your knees tracking in line with the toes of each foot, press through your whole front foot and reverse the movement to stand up. Repeat.
As you work up in weight, you may eventually need to begin to goblet clean the kettlebell into position first.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, a kettlebell on the floor between the balls of your feet.
- Keeping your chest up, push your butt backward and bend your knees just far enough that you can secure a sturdy grip on the handle.
- Stand quickly and, using the power of your hips, legs and butt, launch the kettlebell straight up as if it’s in an elevator rocketing upward — the kettlebell should feel weightless. (This means you really need to make it pop with your legs!)
- Use your arms to keep it close to your body as it floats up.
- When it reaches about chest height, slide your hands down around the handle and snap your elbows around the kettlebell to catch and cradle its weight to your chest, potentially using forearm support as well. Now stagger your feet to assume the start position.
If you wish to add even more of a thoracic mobility component to this lift (it’s already great for ankle and hip mobility), you can add a rotational element, turning through your ribcage (as opposed to your lower back) toward your front, or working, leg.
Don’t force range of motion — simply turn slowly, under control as you descend.
Again, perform the movement with bodyweight alone first. If that feels good and you’d like to add weight, grab a light-for-you kettlebell or dumbbell (hands cupping one end of the weight, held vertically).
Kettlebell Goblet B-Stance/Kickstand Squat with Rotation
Can’t wait to see how you apply these ideas.