Get your Squat On
Clive Rodell / trainer
I was in the gym training a client, diagonally opposite me was a regular female member of this gym. A lady with a shy/sweet disposition who whilst quiet, is always friendly. Small stature but lifts well/heavily for her size and gender.
This lady has been using a Personal Trainer who talks loudly (to impress?). Whilst I work in this area for some of my work, I hate to be called a Personal Trainer, it’s becoming common knowledge the lack of expertise of many in this trade is causing all sorts of injuries.
The Personal Trainer was critiquing the lady’s squat. The lady, (who certainly pushes the load barrier), was expounding that she felt uncomfortable and didn’t think her technique was correct. The Personal Trainer, however, was reinforcing that the technique was ‘perfect’ and any doubts she had, were inside her head only. My client looked at me and quietly stated… “that’s not correct, is it?”. I quietly replied “no, there are at least 3 fundamental changes that need to be made, or she could hurt herself”.
I continued mulling this over for a few weeks and then decided to say something to him. I tried to be discreet and courteous. I explained I had heard his advice and was in total disagreement. I also stated I thought the lady could seriously hurt herself. His reply was to boast he had a degree etc. I’m not sure if he has 4 or 5 degrees or whether it was the same one he told me about, many times, in the space of about 4 minutes!!
I asked if he had thought about doing an Australian Strength and Conditioning Coaching Course. He said he had to complete the level 1 for his degree. I asked if he had thought about completing the level 2 Course. He replied… he didn’t see the point… as he had a degree.. (is that now 6 degrees? Lol).
Ironically the lady walked in 3 hours later whilst I was training another client. I said hello and said I hadn’t seen her for a few weeks… she replied… you guessed it… her back had been really bad and she hadn’t been able to train. Coincidence?
So, here’s a few pointers about…
The Squat… high risk, massive gains.
I am going to alert you to some major points that need to be considered. I am not going to explain every one, I am not going to be there when you are squatting and I’d need to be, to put all the points across correctly and address whatever issue are pertinent for you.
The following is an excerpt from the exercise technique course I have just written and will make available shortly to upskill PTs, Trainers etc. If anyone is interested, please contact me through this great site.
If you are squatting the most crucial factor is to use the levers (femur/shins/hips, the hinges), in your body to align and create a vertical ascension of your centre of gravity (bar and weight plates, plus you)
Most people find this extremely difficult and most Trainers I see, miss this important and critical factor. The more mis-alignment of the angle at the hip. I.e. Leaning forward and changing that centre of gravity shift, loading the fulcrum (lower back), the more dangerous it becomes.
Don’t be fooled into the myths “knees should not go over toes” it is RUBBISH! No two bodies are the same and so you cannot have hard and fast rules like that.
The most important reps for injury in any exercise are the first and last.This is so true with the squat. So the squat starts before the bar is taken from the rack. Get the removal of the bar correct and safe.
Bar height? You need to be able to take and return the bar without tip toes, essentially a mini squat to take on and off.
Un-racking? Racking? Symmetrical foot position, small steps back and the reverse on the return
Visual distraction? Clear the area, Trainers clear the idiots!
Back posture? Long story, and has to be explained in person, but essentially it’s a standing posture… (upright and neutral).
Toe/knee direction? Knees follow the line of the second toe, feet keep their positioning.
Parallelogram? A visual explanation I use speaking of two sides of a parallelogram(stolen from my good friend/mentor and sensational S&C, Ashley Jones).
How do you teach vertical ascension? This takes time and is hands on, but a vertical pole is one tool I use.
Front or Back Squat? Debatable, I use the front mainly, especially for over 35s.
Heel Plates? I use these, if I feel they are warranted. Lever lengths being one of the criteria.
‘Pole dancing’ a useful tool? You have to be there.. lol
Rubbers? Grow up, get tough and through that rubber tubing in the bin! You need to feel the bar!!
Spotting? Specific and to do it correctly, you’ll look like ‘good friends’! ??
Firstly, clear the area from untidy trainers/participants, remove visual distractions.
Set bar height as discussed.
Place plates on bar, fit collars so that there is a slight gap.
Set bar on body, stand tall and do the ‘two step’.
Some studies say the hamstrings must have at least 75% of the strength of the quadriceps, in order to maintain an optimum balance. I’m not necessarily one for data on paper.. anecdotal works for me. I’m not worried about the percentages, just the correct lift!
Weak hamstrings could present as medial rotation of the knees during squatting movements. However, Hip Mobility, Gluteal malfunction can also play an incorrect role.
Hip Mobility…most commonly hip rotation (both internal and external) is another common cause of compromised technique (and can present as hip pain during squats).
To assess, Physios will have the athlete lie on his or her back with the thigh positioned vertically and the knee bent to ninety degrees. To test external rotation, the foot is moved inwards while keeping the thigh vertical. To test internal, the foot is moved outward. We ideally would like to see 45 degrees of external and 30 degrees of internal rotation, or so I’ve been led to believe. Oh no! Data! Lol I’m really Mr Anecdotal. The data is in my head from all the years.
Squat Width? Whatever feels the most comfortable, if you tell me to squat hip or shoulder width… I cannot!
To finish, walk in until bar returns ‘home’
Perform mini squat and rack bar.
I will sometimes take hours with an athlete to get this right/perfect. So, just like those stupid on-line programmes (just for you, lol). This is just a starting guide.
Get it right and nearly everything else will fall into line, get it completely wrong… watch TV from that point on!
Go and consult an experienced qualified Level 2 Strength and Conditioning Coach or above if you want to get this correct.
A degree may or may not help…. But experience counts!!
Kindest, Clive. (no more App, I’ve now rebranded! Training Mentor).