By Sabina Skala

The role of the correct pelvis position in designing an effective strength training

One of the first things I look at when I start training a new MMA client, or to be honest ANY CLIENT is their posture and pelvis position.

The position of the pelvis is crucial in training & development of strength and power.

Pelvis is the major link between the spinal column and the legs. Whilst performing the multi joint, compound movements like squats, deadlifts, strict presses, not even mentioning various kicks, punches, take downs, hip thrusts etc., the forces travel through the body and if the pelvis is not in the right position it may result not only in the inability to generate the amount of force the body is capable of but also in inability to perform the lift safely.

Just picture HOW IMPORTANT this is for any combat sport! If we consider the pelvis as the link that the force generated from the ground travels through then when that link is broken one way or the other – the potential for powerful kicks, powerful punches, fast take downs, fast explosive hip movements on the ground etc - is lost.

In many cases fixing the postural problem related to the hip positioning hugely increases the strength and consequently power and also decreases lower back and groin aches/injuries.

From s&c point of view it is of utmost importance for both the athlete and the trainer to make sure the pelvis is in the correct position through the lift (the position will change depending on the phase of the lift). Before loading the bar, you have to make sure that your client’s structure enables them to position the pelvis in the right position. During performing any loaded exercise we need to make sure that the pelvis position (tilting) serves to maintain the neutral lumbar curvature of the spine.

I will look at 2 different cases of pelvis positioning in reference to any postural problems that should be taken into consideration before progressing to complex lifts.

In today’s post, let’s take a closer look at the excessive posterior pelvic tilt (PPT) (which is quite common amongst fighters) and how it can affect the strength training.

How to recognize an excessive Posterior Pelvic Tilt - Easy way is to look at the musculature – If you are training a client who has got a tight chest, rounded back, tight glutes (there is no much difference where the back ends and the glutes begin) and hamstrings and quite often hyperactive upper traps and “lazy” lower traps – there is a huge chance his /her hips will be a bit or a lot too much posteriorly tilted, again It is a simplification but it can serve as tip for you to have a deeper look into this matter.

This is the type of posture you may notice:

(Red arrows mark the areas that need to be activated, green lines the areas that need to be stretched)

Excessive posterior pelvic tilt (PPT):

Tight muscles:

  • Glutes (although they are tight they also may need activation)
  • Hamstrings
  • Pectorals
  • Rectus Abdominus
  • (also often – upper traps)

Muscles that need to be activated

  • Hip flexors (psoas, illiacus)
  • Spinal erectors
  • (also often – lower trapezius)

If you have a client like the above - warm ups and /or mobility sessions are the perfect times to address all tight and all the “lazy” muscles.

It is very simple - we need to stretch the tight muscles and activate the elongated ones. If you neglect this issue, not only will you slow down the athlete's progress, but you can also cause an injury. Imagine a situation where you have a client with an excessive PPT and you make them perform drills that will tighten the rectus abdominus and round the back even further (like sit ups or deck squats, which could be an ok drill for someone with an excessive anterior pelvic tilt (APT), but not necessarily for excessive PPT cases). The sit ups and/or back deck squats will not only tighten the abs further but also round the back more, which will be exactly opposite to what we are trying to achieve. Now, think how many fighters are made to do hundreds of sit ups and how many of them should be avoiding them period!

Lets have a look at the drills that address the tight muscles (just a few examples, there is plenty more, explore and come up with your own ones), you can include them in the warm ups or separate mobility sessions

Short sample mobility drills that you can include in a warm up would be:

Drill 1

Activates – erector spinae, QL

Stretches – rectus abdominus, hamstrings, glutes


Wall Squats:

Activates – erector spinae, QL, hip flexors, quads (important, keep your toes touching the wall, push your chest towards the wall but keep shoulders off the wall.

Prone Cobra

Activates – erector spinae, QL, lower traps

Shoulder mobility drill:

Stretches – pecs, also improves shoulder and thorax mobility

Drill 2:

Stretches – hamstrings, calves

Activates – hip flexors, quads, obligues, thorax, glutes

All the above don’t take much time, but prepare the body well for the activity to come and also work on fixing the posture.

Sabina’s stable of clients includes pro MMA as well as top BJJ athletes, triathletes, polo players, climbers, dancers and military personnel. She has also successfully trained top male models. She works closely as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with Balance - Sports Injury Physiotherapy clinic in London. As a former competitive athlete Sabina believes that each is truly responsible for the performance potential and that we all are capable of limitless possibilities when we put our mind and hard work to it. Contact info: [email protected] or via contact form