The SQUAT. There are so many opinions and so many ways to slice this incredible exercise. It is the basis for most strength training—that is undeniable. When discussing with gym rats, almost every position, bar path and execution of movement, will have a different ‘expert’ weighing in on the topic. This especially weighs true on the net. In this short piece, we will discuss our technique training at Lane’s Fitness, and let you, the client, decide which is best for you.
First some indisputable points on the SQUAT:
- 3 “primary” joints that move are the ankle, knee and hip. Maximizing range of motion within these is essential for increased power.
- Flexing your knee (maximally), while keeping your “complete” foot on the ground will allow the athlete to ‘learn how’ to generate more force (this is ROM or range of motion).
- Keeping an athletes spine as vertical as possible within the movement will more easily transfer to the “power lifts” called; a) snatch and b) clean.
- Moving ‘fast’ on the ascent can critically develop power (which has speed).
Sorry, personal trainers… lol… with a vertical spine and keeping the (whole) foot on the ground… the knee WILL GO OUT IN FRONT OF THE TOE! But, before you throw this blog post away, go for a short walk, run, sit on the toilet, and jump. Not in that order… lol. That is right… they all require your knee to be in front of your toe. So, why not train this in a controlled environment? Professional coaches have been doing this for decades. Knees over the toe has gotten a really BAD rap over the years—and it has mostly been from unqualified trainers who don’t understand the body and how it works. In PROFESSIONAL coaching we have a few tests that are VERY important at assessing power. These are possibly the most important tests in understanding an athletes potential and overall power. All of the following are critical for assessment:
- Vertical Jump
- Standing Broad Jump
- Bar Hops
If an athlete can’t squat properly, they are going to do poorly in these tests. Period. Oh… by the way… all of these movements require your foot to be out in front of your toe, when executed maximally.
Of course we have to adjust for injuries, limitations, and are always happy to continue to execute “low bar back squats.” We always assess any athlete, young and old to see how accepting their body can be to any technique we offer. The squats mentioned as “ideal” are only for those who are able and willing to move forward with this technique.
The next time you are in the gym, grab a PVC pipe and watch yourself in the mirror. Or, better yet, video yourself. What you observe may be staggering. Remember, power cannot come from a limited joint or slow movement.
If you are even uncertain of the proper form—please consult a professional coach. Preferably one that has spent time squatting and knows the differences between “low bar” and “high bar” squatting. Getting a Coach that has spent time in competition and one that has attended a professional clinic in 2017 are definitely added pluses!
Jump Higher – Run Faster – Hit Harder – Change Direction