Triphasic Training Principle 34

Understanding the Angular Shank Loading Model for Athlete Training – Ultimate Sports and Human Movement Specificity

The information that follows is not just a theoretical concept; it has been put into practice in countless workouts by top-level athletes, yielding remarkable outcomes, particularly in terms of hamstring and related muscle injury prevention.. 

In the realm of athletic training, the angular shank loading model plays a crucial role in optimizing performance and building posterior chain resilience. This loading model focuses on adjusting the angles of an athlete’s foot position during posterior training exercises, such as squats, RDL’s deadlifts, Reverse Hypers, and Glute-ham hypers. By strategically positioning the feet based on the athlete’s loading focus in training, this model aims to enhance the strength, power, and speed phases of training. Let’s delve into the details of this model and explore its various phases.


Strength Phases for Shank Position 

When observing athletes during sprinting, it becomes evident that their feet are positioned wider, especially when coming out of a stance. Stronger and more powerful athletes often adopt an even wider stance. The width of the feet in this loading model zone is crucial for building strength, ranging from zero to five meters. In this strength phase, the shank angle (lower limb model) is wider, reflecting the wider stance required for optimal strength development.

Power and Speed Phases for Shank Position

Moving on to the power phase, which occurs between 5 and 15 meters in sprinting, a slightly narrower stance is observed. This phase focuses on acceleration and requires a more specific foot positioning to generate power effectively. Athletes transitioning into the speed phase, typically ranging from 10 to 20 meters, exhibit a narrower foot stance. It’s important to note that athletes with lower speed capabilities might reach their top speed at around 10 meters, but their technique would still align with this narrower foot positioning.

To align the foot position with the specific training phase, the angular shank loading model offers a straightforward approach. In the strength loading zone, characterized by loads above 80 percent, a wider stance is recommended. Coaches often implement this approach throughout the entire week when athletes are training their legs at intensities of 80, 85, 92, or even 120 percent. The wider stance in this phase supports the development of isometric strength, a key element in the triphasic phase of training that includes isometric and eccentric components.

As the loading intensity decreases to the power zone, ranging from 55 to 80 percent, a narrower foot stance is advised. It’s worth mentioning that these percentage ranges can be flexible, and coaches may adjust them based on their specific training models. Moving further, the next zone, which is Speed Phase involves bringing the feet closer together, eventually transitioning to lifts specifically designed for this narrower stance. Although the ranges could be adjusted, it is generally recommended to maintain foot positions between 50 and 25 percent for this zone.

It is essential to understand that the foot position during a sprint gradually transitions from a wider stance to a narrower one. This principle of sports specificity aligns with the angular shank loading model, ensuring that loading models correspond to the foot position during sprinting. The goal is to create a training program that matches the demands of the athlete’s sport and optimizes performance.

To illustrate the practical implementation of the model, let’s consider exercises like the glute-ham hyper and reverse hyper. In the glute-ham hyper exercise, the thigh and knee position determines the foot placement. During the strength phase, where loads range from 80 to 120 percent, a wider stance is recommended. As the athlete moves into the power phase, the foot position becomes narrower, aligning with the loading range of 55 to 80 percent. Finally, in the speed phase, a narrow stance is preferred, especially when the athlete is peaking and focusing on explosive movements in sports with a significant emphasis on the gait cycle.

The image below shows the foot positions in different phases for the Glute-ham Hyper: the Strength Phase (represented by the color red), the Power Phase (in blue), and the Speed Phase (in yellow).

While this article primarily focuses on the glute-ham hyper and reverse hyper, it is important to note that other exercises, such as the Romanian deadlift (RDL) and hip thrust, also align with the angular shank loading model. In the RDL, the foot positioning follows a wider stance in the strength zones (80 to 120 percent load), emphasizing the development of posterior chain strength. As the athlete progresses into the power phase, the foot position becomes narrower, accommodating loads ranging from 50 to 25 percent, suitable for lighter loads. Lastly, in the speed zone, a narrow stance is favored, promoting explosive movements and peak performance.


The image below illustrates the foot placement positions on the Glute Ham, which has a wider stance, and the Reverse Hyper, which has a wider angle.

It’s important to note that the angular shank loading model complements other training methodologies. For instance, the Intergraded Performance Foot Shift and the three-way foot position method can be incorporated into this model to further enhance performance and prevent injuries. These additional techniques will be explored in future videos to provide a comprehensive understanding of their integration with the angular shank loading model.

The video showcased below exhibits the exceptional prowess of an athlete executing a power or speed exercise with seamless fluidity, even at high velocities. Witness the remarkable skill of this two-time Olympian as they perform the exercise. For further insight into this exercise, check out our other posts, such as the Intergraded Performance Foot Shift video, where you can observe the exercise in exquisite detail, if video is slowed down to 25% of the original speed.

In conclusion, the angular shank loading model is a valuable tool in athlete training, focusing on optimizing foot positioning during various training phases. By adjusting the foot stance based on the specific loading zones, coaches and trainers can effectively develop an athlete’s posterior chain resilience, strength, power, and speed. Remember, each phase requires a different foot position, ranging from wider stances in the strength phase to narrower stances in the power and speed phases. Integrating this model into training programs can contribute to improved athletic performance and reduce the risk of injuries.

In sports rehabilitation and injury recovery, it is crucial to adopt this principle of specificity during the return-to-play process. This applies to all phases, whether it is preparing for sports or engaging in rigorous daily activities. By focusing on the specificity of training, one can optimize their performance and ensure a successful transition back to their sport or active lifestyle.

  • A Summary of  Angular Shank Loading Model:
    • The angular shank loading model plays a crucial role in optimizing performance and building posterior chain resilience in athletic training.
    • The model focuses on adjusting the foot position during various training exercises to enhance strength, power, and speed phases.
  • Strength Phases for Shank Position:
    • The wider foot stance in this model zone (0-5 meters) helps in building strength.
    • Observing athletes during sprinting reveals their wider foot positions in this strength-loading zone.
  • Power and Speed Phases for Shank Position:
    • The power phase (5-15 meters) requires a slightly narrower foot stance for effective power generation.
    • The speed phase (10-20 meters) involves a narrower foot stance, even for athletes with lower speed capabilities.
  • Implementation of Shank Loading Model:
    • The model suggests a wider stance (80% load) in the strength phase, a narrower stance (55-80% load) in the power phase, and foot positions between 50-25% for the speed phase.
    • Foot positions in training gradually transition from wider to narrower stances, aligning with the demands of sprinting.
  • Exercise Examples for Shank Loading Model:
    • Exercises like glute-ham hyper and reverse hyper demonstrate the practical implementation of the model.
    • Foot positioning in exercises varies based on the load, emphasizing strength, power, and performance in different phases.
  • Complementary Techniques and Integration:
    • The angular shank loading model can be complemented by techniques like Intergraded Performance Foot Shift and three-way foot position.
    • Exploring these techniques in conjunction with the model can further enhance performance and prevent injuries.

The next video in the series –

Intergraded Foot Shift-Posterior Chain Series 4.0