You might've heard this stuff before: "Half-kneeling exercises are more functional, they work your core, they develop hip and spinal stability, and physical therapists recommend them."
While these things might be true, doing them wrong can do more harm than good. You may even put yourself at risk for some surprise back and hip pain. Worst thing is, you'd never even know your beloved half-kneeling positions were the culprit.
The good news? A simple foam pad can easily fix the problem.
A "Good" Half-Kneel
The goal is to get in a position where your ribs are down and your pelvis is up. Your ribs and pelvis should be stacked in a way that creates an almost "canister-like" effect. This puts you in a position of optimal stability, alignment, and core engagement.
A better half-kneel helps you get more out of any exercise you apply it to: shoulder presses, cable chest presses, cable rows, landmine presses, bottoms-up presses, and so-on.
Compare your canister-like ribs and pelvis to a cola can. Now imagine how much weaker the can would be if the top and bottom weren't stacked evenly, or there were a few kinks in the sides of the aluminum. Your core, spine, pelvis, and rib cage don't work exactly like that, but you get the picture. An evenly stacked canister is less likely to be crushed.
Level-Up Your Hips
To get a better half-kneeling position, level-up your hips. It's the most common error I see and the easiest to fix. Correct this and there's no limit to what your half-kneel can do for you.
You may or may not be using something like an Airex pad for your back knee. Besides added comfort, these foam pads should be seen as way to level your hips and stack your "cola can" better.
Note: While you might require a lot of leveling-up, others might require very little, if any. There's no substitution for good coaching, but this is a simple solution you can begin to use right away.
Tips to Master Your Half-Kneeling Position
See what your hips are looking like before you even reach for the weight. A good indicator is the waistband on your shorts and how level that is when adopting your half-kneeling position.
A mirror can help too. Then, level your hips as much as you need to. If it still doesn't look right then it would be worthwhile employing the eyes of a good coach.
Your down knee should be at a 90-degree angle and directly underneath your hip and shoulder. Your front knee should also be at 90-degrees with your weight balanced over your entire foot. Ribs should be down and "cock-up." None of this excessive lumbar arching business. Done correctly, the position should feel hard to hold.
Instead of just hanging out on one knee like you're having a good time, every millisecond of every rep should look hard. The best physique athletes do a great job at making even the lightest of weights look heavy.
The "hard" part should come largely from holding the well-organized half-kneeling position while performing the rest of the exercise – whatever that may be (push, row, press etc.).