T Nation

Biomechanics / Footwork

I’d like to direct this in part to Charles Staley but would welcome all input.

My first question deals with Biomechanics of exercise. I am interested in a website or book that I can use to learn more. I have been training since I was 14 and am 25 and am just discovering Biomechanics. I recently learned the biomechanics of the bench press and now understand why my shoulders were always huge and my chest sub-par. I am realizing I need more of a mix of real science with gym science.

Secondly, I am a martial artist. I need to work on my footwork. When I spare I feel I have good hand speed but would like to increase my foot speed. Also I move back and forth too much and would like to increase my side to side movement. I am 6’1" and around 220. I am never going to be the fastest guy there. But I’ve seen masters my size who move very gracefully and that can make up for being slower than the 5’ 150lb little guy. Any ideas?


When you are sparring or doing footwork drills, make a conscious effort to stay on the balls of your feet. The minute your heels touch the ground you are stuck.

Jump rope will help you get “lighter” on your feet.

For more mobility, I would look into Renegade training. Coach Davies has many drills that will help you with your footwork/mobility.

If you’re looking for books on biomechanics I would suggest one of two things:

  1. Go to the local university book store and find the texts used for the biomechanics classes that are offered.

  2. Go the the local university to the faculty of physical education (or kinesiology or sport science) and ask someone (students work well) where you can find the biomechanics lab. Go up and ask the prof that’s there what books/articles etc. He/She would recommend. Make certain you explain what you’re after. Most profs get so excited to see people interested in their area of study they’ll leap at the opportunity to help.


What exactly are biomechanics?

“Biomechanics is defined as that area of study wherein the knowledge and methods of mechanics are applied to the structure and function of the living human system.”

Kreighbaum and Barthels, 1996.

Basically it is the analysis of movement (kinematics and dynamics) as it applies to living things. Think of it as the physics of people.


However TC did an atomic dog in which he used the term biomechanic to describe us. Whereas someone who studies or works with biomechanics is a biomechanist.