Emmet’s Blackboard

Dissecting the Dish Position

In this mini lecture I cover some of the important points of the “dish” position.

Alright, my movers and shakers, it is time for another round of Emmet’s Blackboard.  First off, I’d like to apologize.  I’ve been really busy the last couple of weeks, the last six weeks or so. I hadn’t had the chance to put up another video, so I thought, I’m going to make a little special video on something where I guarantee, if you’re watching the videos, it’s something you’ve done or are doing currently.

Today we are going to dissect the dish position.  As you know, it’s a body line drill.  It can be trained for endurance, strength, or as part of a warmup, or a unique movement in your workout itself.  That depends on where you’re at, where you’re looking to go, how you’re using it, and what sort of training cycle you’re in.

I’m not going to go too much into that, as it’s quite person specific.  Some good recommendations with the dish: you’d like to be able to hold 90s as a nice target on that.  If you can hold that comfortably, you’re kind of sorted on that.

Another recommendation is 3-4 sets of 60s.  Once you can do that, you want to start looking at harder body line drills.  You want to look at adding weight, maybe weights on the ankles, held above the head on a stick.  Different things.

First things first – let’s just look at what the actual dish position is.  Now, I teach this slightly different than what you might have been told.  We are going to start with our feet, as I normally teach it, and work our way up.

The feet are pointed.  We have the toes pointed nice and flat and straight.  The next thing, working our way up from here – so ankles and toes in line.  If your point is a problem, you might have to do some release on your tibialis anterior.  You can either roll this, Graston style technique, fascial abrasion technique is great for that area.

Next, knees.  Important one here is we want to pull our kneecaps up.  This has the indirect action of straightening our feet out, straightening our line out.  We also want to look at knee extension.  If you cannot get your knees straight, fully straight, then you need to look at doing something to loosen that up.  There’s loads of videos on that.

Next, we have our quads tight.  Our legs are squeezed together.  This is a very important point.  I had this illustrated while I was chatting to some guys on Reddit.  One of the guys posted a picture, then I said, your handstand is nice.  But let’s squeeze the legs together, turn them out slightly.  He went from a 15s handstand to a 30s handstand.

A little tip, very important.  Squeeze your legs together.  It fires your core off in an indirect way, and just works.  Trust me on this one.

Next, with the pelvis.  With the legs, you see they are lifted here.  Our feet are lifted off the ground, but they’re not lifted a huge amount.  We’re not going 6, 7, 8 inches, or 9 or 12, like you see with people.  In fact, I don’t like, as it starts using the hip flexors to lift the legs.  We’re not getting the effect we want.

Our pelvis is tucked under, the whole ‘putting your balls on the table,’ if you’re a guy.  Or imaginary ones, if you’re a girl.  This will have the indirect effect of flattening out the lower back.  You always have people say, “flat lower back, flat lower back.”

If you are a girl and working out anyway, or just have normal woman shaped hips, your lower back is going to be flattened out, but a lot of the time I can still slide my hand underneath my clients.  They’re just developed in the posterior; it’s just the way women are shaped.

I wouldn’t get hung up on getting the back flattened, as long as the curve of the spine and joints are flexed, it’s perfectly fine.  You’re going to put yourself in a bad position trying to flatten that out, unless you’re very narrow in the hips.

Most guys can get the back flat.  Myself, I squat a lot.  I don’t go perfectly flat to the floor.  In fact, when I did, I forced that one and fucked up my handstand shape for quite a while until I was able to reestablish a nice, straight, flattened spine.

Next.  We’ve got this flattened.  Our lift has happened.  This will have the indirect effect of lifting our legs about 5cm off the ground.  It’s not a lot, but it’s just what we need to be nicely in line.

We’re looking for, in a handstand, as this is what I’m directing us all towards, is we need a nice straight shape.  We don’t need to be arched like a canoe.  We want to be flat; everything stacks up nicely, balance is carried by the bones.  Simple.

Next.  We’re looking at getting the ribs down.  Now when we pull the ribs down, we’re going to have the indirect effect of lifting the top of the torso.  A lot of people cue this wrong.  They lift the torso and the whole position is a different position.  They’re two distinct positions with different applications.  We must remember this.  A holding up dish might look the same, but they’re not the same.  Remember that; that’s important.

We’re going to pull the ribs down.  It’s a small motion; we’re only going to get 5 to 10 degrees of flexion.  That’s going to have the effect that, if you have the scapula somewhere around here, it’s going to have the effect that you’re only going to lift up until you’re at the point of the scapula.  That pointy bit at the ground, that is all you need to keep the ribs down.  We don’t need to lift til our torso is right to doing a crunch or sit up.  That’s a problem you see.

When you’re initially starting your training, you’re going to lift a bit higher, just because a longer lever, the harder to hold, the more muscular strength.  But you want to look at just getting that slightly off the ground.

One of the other mistakes I see a lot in dish is in the neck.  We want to keep the neck neutral.  That means the neck follows the eyes.  If you’re looking down to see your toes, you’re going to be firing this way, which we don’t want.  We want to be nice and long, so look straight up to the ceiling.  At the same time, don’t crane your neck forward.  Just nicely.  If we fixed it, then lift it, boom.  Sorted.

Now the hands are a tricky one.  We use the hands – well, I use the hands in my programming as the intensification modifier once people have achieved… first we’re going to start with the hands going along the body here.  Watch out, I’m not just holding my hands at the side, but have them abducted.  Slightly out to the side is a great place to start.

Once that gets easy or lifted, the next thing we look at is holding the hands straight up.

I’m just going to grab my chalk.  We hold the hands straight to the ceiling, pushing them up.  That’s the next thing; you’ll find that’s a big kick off.  Another option I like to do is hold the hands in the 90-90 position, up by the side, and let them round forward like that.

Don’t ask my why.  I just like it.  It’s not a big deal, but that is about the same amount of relative intensity.

Next, once we’ve achieved our 3-4 sets of 60s with ease.  Remember, we’re trying to do this as easy as possible, not struggling.  We want this as body line, it’s not deadlifting.

Next, we’re going to hold the hands up by the ears.  The problem is you might want your friend or coach to watch this.  A lot of people hold their hands where they think is by their ears, but they’re actually there.  We want them right back so you’re pushing them away as well, making them nice and long.  At the same time, rounded over.

This will greatly intensify the leverage you have on your abs, and make it a lot harder.

You can also look at this segment here as an isolated section.

You can put your arms here, and just pull down the ribs and see if everything moves as a unit, not worrying about the legs for the moment.  That’s just one test to see if you have the upper abdominal strength.  I know the abs aren’t divided, but for intents and purposes of this, holding the ribs down has a different effect than rotating the pelvis.

So, a quick recap.  Toes pointed.  Legs squeezed together.  Externally rotated, slightly.  Glute squeezed mildly; basically, it’s that whole ‘stick a $20 bill between your ass cheeks.’  You want to have a good hold on it.  You don’t want to be sucking it in there, but you don’t want someone to be able to pull it out.

Pelvis.  Lower back rotated.  Very small rotation to get those legs off the ground.  Lower back flat, doesn’t mean flat into the ground because depending on your anatomy, that just won’t happen.

Next, ribs down, upper body lifted – not extensively, just to the bottom of the shoulder blades.  Bottom of the shoulder blades is fine.

Initially, the arms start down by the sides – level one. Once we’ve achieved that, level two, arms up to the ceiling.  Next, arms over head, parallel to the floor, in line with the body.

The ultimate goal is, once we have achieved this, we start looking at harder body line drills.  But for you guys, give it a go.

Most important thing, I’m going to stress this again, is getting the legs squeezed together, getting them rotated.  That will add seconds to your handstands instantly.  Trust me on this one.

So, I hope you enjoyed my mini little lecture.  The next video I have coming up is a video on joint preparation.  We’re going to look at what exactly that is, what exercises and concepts we can apply to our training that will enhance our joints, and just answer some questions.

Also – if you have any further questions, I’m taking questions for some more lectures.  Either put them on the comments, on Reddit, send them on email, or Facebook, however you want.  I’ll take a look at it.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it.  If you like my videos, please like and subscribe.  I will catch you next week.