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A Simple Way to Move and Perform Better

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

Why the "Stack" Matters


The Stack is position that I use a ton to help people move and perform better.


This position helps to reposition our joints so that we are set up to express movement to the best of our ability. In order for us to hit the appropriate depth in a squat or press a barbell over our heads, we have to have a space for our bones to move within our joints.


The Stack position takes an inside out approach that aims to reposition the pelvis, ribcage, and shoulder blades. Neutrality is the stack position, and it can be visualized by a head, ribcage, and pelvis stacked on top of each other. If these three bones are in a state of neutrality (a term popularized by PRI), then the leg bones will move better within the hip joint and the arms will move better within the shoulder joint. When viewing someone, or yourself from the side, you should be able to see an ear hole, shoulder joint, and hip joint in one straight line. Another visual can be the top of your head in line with your tailbone.


Good stack on left. Bad stack on right. www.tonygentilcore.com

If I try to squat without an appreciation for this stack position, my femur and pelvis may limit how much depth I can achieve. This may happen because my leg bone runs out of room to move within my hip joint. Similarly, if I press over head with an excessive arch in my lower back, my shoulder blade will not be able to move along with my arm as it gets higher.

Squatting and hinging without a stack

Shoulder motion with poor stack, and good stack


Now before I go further, I do want to say that this is not an end all be all. First, I don't recommend you trying to do everything in this stack position. Some exercises and daily tasks don't need it. However, I am suggesting that if you are not moving as well as you'd like in your workouts, I would start here. And I would start with one of these 3 exercises below. These three exercises are really good at getting you familiar with the stack position.


The hook lying hamstring isometric bridge, beast holds, and the 90-90 breathing drill.


Muscles will change the position of our joints. Some muscles need to but inhibited/turned off, while others need to be facilitated/turned on. For the stack we want to do the following.


Inhibit/turn off:

  1. Spinal erectors (muscles along our spine)

  2. Hip flexors (Psoas)

  3. Vastus lateralis (muscle along the outside of the leg)

  4. Tensor fasciae latte

Facilitate/turn on

  1. Hamstrings

  2. Glutes

  3. Obliques (side abs)


Before looking at the videos below, here are some coaching points that may help you get the most out of this. Tilt your belly button towards your face to get your lower back flat on the ground. Lift your hips off of the floor just enough to get a credit card underneath it. Exhale soft through the mouth first, then inhale through the nose. Your exhales should be longer than your inhales. You should not strain yourself trying to take a breath in our out.


The hook lying hamstring bridge below is my go to for so many people as it really facilities the hamstrings. The hamstrings will pull the pelvis back to get the stack.



Hook lying hamstring holds


Beast holds are one of the easiest ways to reposition the shoulder blades. Be sure to not be excessively rounded during this as it may negate the benefits of it. This one is really helpful before an upper body workout.



Beast holds


Lastly, 90-90 breathing is a great bang for you buck breathing drill since it will give you hamstring obliques, and reposition the shoulders.



90-90 breathing


It is frustrating when you can't hit depth in a squat or you feel as if you feel your lower back more than your deltoids in a shoulder press. If this sounds familiar to you, try one of these drills in your next warm up and see what can happen.


Remember, we do not need a stack all the time. For example, when lifting heavy things or giving a sprint our 100% effort, we will likely loose our stack. But for certain exercises and movements it will be beneficial to pay a little more attention to how this set up can enhance your able to move!




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