Joint by Joint Quiz

The following brief questions were sent to me for my review.  This young coach was trying to understand the Joint by Joint and my message that the theory can guide the  appropriateness of exercise choices.
My notes are in bold.

Q: What are the 3 Main Principles behind the Joint-by-Joint?

A: #1 Know the Non-Functional and Functional Anatomy
#2 Understand Relative Stiffness
#3 Understand Injury Patterns

1. Understanding injury mechanism
2. Grading baseline appropriateness for exercise choices

Identify whether the following exercises and movements “clear” the Joint by Joint standard. Also provide a brief bullet point style explanation.

1. Seated Machine Military Press
technical proficiency reference: [youtube][/youtube]

– The GH is “mobile” in all planes and here it is “stable” in the transverse and sagital
– The hip is “mobile” in all planes and here it is stabilizing in all planes

Technically, yes, but the stability in the scapulae and lumbar spine are not active. They are “picked up” by the runners of the Smith Machine for the scaps, and the bench for the lumbar spine.
The seated position also likely fosters lumbar flexion.
But taking active control out of the equation, this movement can represent the Joint by Joint, but it is not in the true spirit of Coach Boyle’s message.

2. Mini-Band Hip External Rotation
technical proficiency reference:

– The Knee is “stable” in the frontal plane and here it is “mobile”

Yes, this technique does embody the joint by joint.
I think the movement is silly as the motor pattern of controlling valgus is not the same as the motor pattern of completely preventing valgus. But if controlled well as demonstrated in the video, there should be no excessive frontal or transverse motion at the knee.
Like so many things they do, AP gets a pass on criticism. There is a probably a good reason why you see only them or their minions using this type of prep.

3. KB Sumo Deadlift
technical proficiency reference:


– Lower c-spine is “stable” and here they are both “mobile”

Correct, while I don’t know that many feel as strongly as I do, the cervical extension in the hole of any level change is a joint-by-joint mistake, and it should be coached.
You can also hear Coach Boyle coach some more ankle mobility in this technique.
Lastly, I would look for more hip mobility by bringing the KB down from mid-foot to mid-calcaneus. This will foster more hip mobility and lumbar stability. Those qualities are present in this video with a strict joint-by-joint critique.

  • October 27, 2010

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Reggie Townsend Reply


Regarding your comments about c-spine extension, does this mean that coming out of the hole, the eyes would essentially be looking out at a point on the floor a few feet in front of you during a squat or deadlift (unless actively looking up with the eyes while maintaining neutral neck alignment, which is what I tend to do with my eyes when lifting)?

And with respect to what you said about bringing the KB down to mid-calcaneus, would this essentially make this more of a pure hip hinge/RDL type of movement as opposed to the above clip that looks closer to a squat 9although categorized as a deadlift due to the load being in the hands)? Or would it simply mean allowing a bit more knee bend than a strict hip hinge (where you essentially have no movement at the knee, save for initial movement to keep a very slight bend throughout) but still making it primarily a hip hinging movement?

Charlie Reply

Reggie – The thing is that the head faces down, but it’s really just neutral. Fix your head where it is in standing, and then just hip hinge. The head looks down now. So that is the position I am advocating, and you are correct again that on the return from a DL or squat, the eyes should look up. Head down, eyes up.

Your interpretation of my critique is also correct. Both moves have merit. That’s just how I would coach it.
Now most people are not going to get down to the bell in a pure hip hinge. They will have to use the knees to drop in to get the grip. Then I would say take the knees back as much as you can with still keeping neutral spine.

Taking the load out of the equation, a deadlift is with a vertical tibia, and a squat is with an angled tibia.
So to get a DL off the floor, you have to squat it at the bottom until about mid-shin when you DL it. Some can DL it pure off the floor, but not too many.

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