A squat is a strength training exercise working on glutes, hamstring, calves, and quad muscles and includes the hip, knee, and ankle joint. It is one of the best exercises for leg strength, building muscle in the lower body, and strengthening the core. Literally an entire encyclopedia can be written about the benefits of squatting and proper squat form. We will try to provide a simple squat guide that is simple and easy to digest.(more…)
Posts Tagged ‘squat’
When training to build strength, far too many rugby players fall into the trap of simply trying to increase bulk. While I’m not suggesting that you spend all your time outdoors using rugby equipment, I do think it is important to train your body to repeat rugby-specific movements in the gym.
You’ll want to focus not just on strength, but also on power, conditioning, and injury prevention. It’s always best for athletes to focus on sport specific movements and strengthening the weakest links in the chain.
Using weights to replicate rugby-specific movements at a higher intensity, trains your body to become more adept at the skills that actually make you a better rugby player. By following these exercises you should notice marked improvements, not only in your physique, but also your playing ability. (more…)
How NOT to Squat
8-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman said it best: “shut up and squat.”  After all, there’s nothing better for building lower body mass. Squats force you to use numerous stabilizing muscles and exhaust hamstrings, quads, and glutes.
To get the most out of squats, however, they must be executed with correct form. Avoiding these common squat mistakes will take both your performance and physique to the next level.
Mistake #1: Not Engaging Your Core
The core is the body’s center of gravity and is where movement originates. If you have a weak core, it will be much harder to keep the weight stable. It also places you at a greater risk for hip or lower back injury.
To properly engage your core when performing a squat, concentrate on sucking your belly button towards your spine. A strong core will be able to maintain this posture throughout the exercise. If you have a weak core, using a weight belt around the waist protects the spine and keeps you from relaxing the core.
How to Perform Overhead Squats
How to Overhead Squat
Among the best exercises for strength, size, speed, and power, are squats – no exceptions. Front squats, jump squats, and overhead squats are all great alternatives to the king of squat exercises – the barbell back squat.
Squatting will help you develop powerful legs and a rigid core, have no doubt, but when we get creative we can mix and match exercises for an even more effective exercise that trains the whole body.
Sometimes we must think about our upper body as well and there is no better way to look and feel jacked, than to build massively strong shoulders. And there is no better way to feel sexy as a female, than to have sleek, strong, healthy shoulders. It is also equally important to build structurally invincible shoulders to proactively protect yourself from injury.
Combine everything together that I’ve just mentioned, and you get the overhead barbell squat. Let’s see how to do them correctly.
Olympic Style Barbell Front Squat
How to Perform Front Squats
The best exercises for speed, strength, size, and power, are squats – bar none. Back squats, front squats, overhead squats… they are all great, and will help you develop powerful legs and a rigid core.
Front squats are just about the best alternative to back squats, so let’s see how to do them correctly.
Barbell front squats are just about the same as back squats except the bar is placed across the front of your shoulders, using one of the two styles detailed below.
Jump squats are great.
This is an excellent sport specific exercise that can be used alongside plyometrics to help you increase your vertical jump.
Jump squats will also help you power through a plateau in your regular squat development by conditioning your quads and hips to power through the lockout at the top of the movement.
Jump squats are an excellent sport specific exercise that can be used to increase power for:
- Olympic weight lifters
- Olympic athletes that either throw (javelin, shot put) or jump (long jump, pole vault)
- Basketball players who need to jump high
- Football players who block or tackle
Add jump squats to your regular workout, your HIIT routine, your HIRT routine, or your sport specific training.
At one point someone asked me a question about squatting with bad knees. I knew a little bit about it, but I wanted to get more professional opinions before I wrote a full response.
I have compiled the results here and would like you to also read the resources listed at the bottom of this post for more information.
Much of this information was comprised from articles written by Dr. Fred Hatfield (aka Dr. Squat) and from the training certification guide from the ISSA.
Squats are both difficult to defend and difficult to disparage. There are pros and cons to both sides. Let’s examine the facts.
Well, things have kind of fallen off a bit for a couple weeks. Between family medical issues, an increased workload, and a stubborn child, I have had recent difficult both making it to kickboxing and lifting weights. Because of this I feel myself becoming softer, smoother, and in poor cardiovascular condition. Eating junk food at Halloween didn’t help either.
Check out the Olympic front squat chick in the video at the bottom of this post, if you get bored with my training log rant.
In a recent training log, I mention Zercher squats as an alternative to barbell squats, and you might have asked, “What is a Zercher squat?”
So, What is a Zercher Squat?
The Zercher squat was developed by Ed Zercher, a well-known powerlifter and strongman from St. Louis who competed back in the ’30s. Rumor has it that Zercher’s home gym lacked a squat rack, so he would load a barbell on the floor, squat in front of it, hold it in the crook of his arms and lift the weight with his legs and lower back.
Allow me to introduce the first ever Project Swole Question of the Week. In this section we will be tackling all those important questions like, “What is the best tasting protein bar?”, and “Should gym bunnies be allowed to distract us by wearing spandex while they workout?”
This week’s question is one that has been much debated throughout the years.
My opinion is this: when you squat all the way down, it does put unnecessary pressure on the patella (knee). A lifetime of squatting this way could cause one to need knee surgery in their later years. Often someone that squats as low as they can go, will squat down with a greater velocity than if they had to stop themselves at a certain point (parallel). This greater velocity, combined with the stretch reflex used if they bounce out of the hole, could certainly lead to unnecessary tendon and ligament damage over time. So if you know how to squat correctly, and you do not bounce, and you are not attempting a max effort PR, then I guess I don’t see a problem with squatting to the floor; I just don’t recommend ass-to-grass barbell back squats for the average trainee.
Under no circumstances should you execute a half squat or a quarter squat, unless you are making a rare attempt at a super-heavy load that is higher than your 1 rep max. Occasionally I used this protocol to feel out a new weight just to expose my legs to the load. At one point (e.g. back in college) when I was squatting on average 405 lbs for 3-5 reps, I loaded up the bar to 475 and completed 3 half squats with that weight. Using this strategy helped me to attain a 465 1 rep max, because I already knew what that heavier weight felt like, so I had more confidence when I tried to attempt a similar weight for a 1 rep max.
In conclusion, I would say that 90% of the time, one should only squat to parallel or just below parallel. It is not worth sacrificing your knees just to be able to say “I squat ass-to-grass”. Perhaps you might squat all the way down with dynamic effort low box squats, jump squats, or strongman training when practicing events such as the Atlas Stones.
What do you think?
Feel free to vote and leave a comment explaining your opinion.