With nearly every strength and conditioning program incorporating Olympic lifts, it’s no wonder why such a huge emphasis has been put on teaching triple extension before triple flexion. Triple extension is the extension of the ankle, knee and hip joints, whereas triple flexion is flexion of the ankle knee and hip joints. Teaching triple extension is important because an athlete must learn to triple extend in order to have any transfer of training from the Olympic lifts. However, you cannot effectively triple extend (in any type of movement, not just Olympic lifts) until you can effectively triple flex. Triple flexion is important because it reflects an athlete’s eccentric strength and ability to develop tension in deep ranges of motion. This means better triple flexion yields better deceleration during movement. If you can decelerate well, you will have better change of direction and lower risk for injury due to better interaction with the ground.
Now that there is a clear understanding of why triple flexion is important, the next step is to be able to identify what a poor triple flexor looks like and how to solve the problem.
Sign #1-Avoids pushing knees over toes
The solution to this problem is simple. Besides the obvious of implementing plyometrics that reinforce a positive shin (Altitude drops, Counter movement jump), using mobility exercises that target mobility of the ankle and hip can be very helpful.
Sign #2-Excessive hip hinge
If you want to become a good triple flexor and improve deceleration, Front Squats are the key. Since the bar is loaded on the anterior aspect of the body, it forces more activation of the quadriceps and keeps the athlete in an upright position rather than falling forward.
Sign #3-Excessive arm swing
In this case, an athlete may have great range of motion to allow triple flexion, but no eccentric strength to compliment the range or motion. Therefore, they will need to rely on momentum rather than tension to create movement. This issue is mostly seen in the young, hypermobile athlete with limited training experience. No need to complicate this one. JUST GET STRONGER!