Mark Cheng: Cues and Tips for Sphinx Position Drills

With proper cuing, the sphinx position is perfect for core stability progressions and can help identify asymmetries. Mark Cheng makes it easy for you.

I’m going to have Jimmy demonstrate the improper way, one repetition. Jimmy, what I’d like you to do is reach out with your right hand, but sag into the left shoulder. Do you notice how his trapezius is engaged right here? He’s using his neck for stability—not his lats or his core. When he’s coming back, you’ll notice he has to drop and then re-pump.

Spread your chest wide for me, Jimmy. This is what I’m going to do in a case like this. I’m going to give him something to bump up against it. If you feel my fist on your shoulder, that means you shifted too far. I want you to reach out with that right hand. Make sure to keep that balance without touching my fist, and then come on back. This engages the stabilizers in a whole different fashion that way and that’s what we’re looking for.

Now that you have been through the sphinx position progressions, let’s hear any questions or thoughts. How did that feel as you were going through them? Were they pretty difficult? How were they difficult? What felt challenging about them?

Cody Dimak: It was challenging making sure I didn’t have any body-shift when doing the ballistic sand­bag movement.

Mark: When you’re throwing the sandbag or when you’re actually issuing ballistic movement, focusing on the hand that’s active is what most people do. To focus on the hand that’s stabilizing is also some­thing we need to train. Especially for people who are working both hands, we need to make sure we train that good habit of being able to demonstrate the base shoulder is just as important as the active hand.

Jimmy Yuan: Asymmetry, let’s say he has a weak left side compared to a right side. How far do you want to train into that to develop strength? Are you going to go to fatigue, so they can’t even push the medicine ball at all? Or would you say, “If that is the best repetition you have, then we’re done for that side?”

Mark: Go until the form starts to degrade. Once it starts to degrade, you can facilitate it by putting someone on an Airex pad and giving them a few repetitions. Let’s say they’re just tired of fighting in opening up the chest. You might be able to prop the chest open, but even if the neck gets too heavy, like the head feels like it’s too heavy to hold up, it’s better to just give them a rest. Switch position.

For more information, click to preview more from Prehab-Rehab 101.
Mark covers the sphinx position progressions and four more positions based on the neurodevelopmental sequence.
mark cheng prehab rehab video, mark cheng groundwork progressions, mark cheng corrective exercise video