Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Horse Stance

Here's another bodyweight exercise. So simple looking. So painful!

Definition: Horse stance

“The horse stance is an important posture in Asian martial arts and takes its name from the position assumed when riding a horse. It is called mǎbù (馬步) in Chinese, kiba-dachi (騎馬立ち?) in Japanese, kuda-kuda in Malay, and juchum nogi or annun nogi (lit. sitting stance) in Korean.” -

horse stance Pictures, Images and Photos
complements of shas12 photobucket

How Can The Horse Stance Make You Stronger?

The horse stance is a fundamental stance in Chinese martial arts, but if you don't do kung fu, and if you have no intentions of doing a Chinese martial art, why bother with the horse stance at all? Here's why:

  • The horse stance makes your legs stronger: Isometric exercises produce faster gains in strength than traditional moving exercises like squats or lunges (14-40% strength gains in fact) (3). However, they aren't functional for movements in sports, and should be used purely to build strength, as you still have to convert strength into power or endurance etc.
  • Prevents injuries for runners: Muscles involved are the adductors (inner thighs), abductors, sartorious, vastus lasteralis, rectus femoris (quadriceps). Unlike in weight lifting moves like squats which focus on over developing quadriceps, you will develop the inner thighs which will help prevent injuries usually gained through running, walking, tennis, golf and dancing (5).
  • Increases endurance noticeably: We may be able to do 100 squats or more, but may struggle initially to do even 30 seconds of a wide and deep horse stance. You produce lactic acid quicker through isometric exercises, and therefore increase the threshold of lactic acid build up, so you can endure longer and tolerate pain more easily after isometric training (apparently, this is great for cyclists trying to increase their endurance) (8).
  • Doing the side splits: Starting with the horse stance, by eventually widening the stance, we can do the side splits.

What is the horse stance not used for?

Depending on who you talk to, or what martial art you follow, the style and use of the horse stance differs. While many experts agree that it is the most fundamental stance, it isn't the only stance, and the deep variations are not considered beneficial in combat. The more shallow versions, like those of Tai Chi are more natural to use in fighting. However, whether we're 'lovers or fighter,' the horse stance is great for building leg strength without the use of equipment or weights.

How to do the horse stance?

Literally, the idea is to appear as if you're upon a horse. Place your feet parallel to one another, twice your shoulder length apart, then squat down whilst keeping your torso upright. If you want to be more precise with the distance between your feet, try the 5 step horse stance. You can do more steps if you wish, like 7 step horse stance ( After 7 steps, you're pretty much working towards the side splits.


Sumo stance vs Horse stance

In the sumo stance, your feet point outwards at about 45 degrees. This changes the muscles worked.

Building Strength, Without Moving a Muscle by Scott Nesbitt

Horse stance Training, Inside Kung Fu January 2004 by Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong

Isometrics By Kelly Baggett

E Honda (answering) Horse stance or wall sits?

Strengthening Your Hip Adductors

ISSUE # 30 NOVEMBER 27, 2004, Owen Anderson

Muscle Endurance Via Isometrics


  1. "However, they aren't functional for movements in sports, and should be used purely to build strength, as you still have to convert strength into power or endurance etc."

    Could you explain this in more detail?

    1. The horse stance does help with learning how to root. Rooting is a skill that allows you to transfer energy through your body and into the ground. Helps if you are fitting a larger or stronger opponent. I don't know why football players don't learn this.

  2. oh they can be i disagree. when the feet move inwardly think of the pivot of a boxers punch or a golfers drive