Going Deep

Clean and Jerk 1-1-1-1-1-1-1

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Its Jack’s cousin…get it?


A proper squat involves almost every part of the body being activated.  Chest up, low back in extension, posterior chain activated with the weight in your heels, stomach tight, knees pushed out over the toes to stabilize the legs…when we are discussing a proper squat, all of these factors come into play.  When teaching the squat, we regularly use a medicine ball to act as a target and depth gauge for the bottom of your squat.  It is essential to perform your squats to a proper depth.  Read the following excerpt from “Starting Strength” concerning partial squats:

Any squat that is not deep is a partial squat, and partial squats stress the knee and the quadriceps without stressing the glutes, the adductors, and the hamstrings.  The hamstrings, groin muscles, and glutes perform their function in the squat when the hips are stretched to the point of full flexion, where they get tight – the deep squat position.  The hamstring muscles…and the adductors…reach a full stretch at the very bottom of the squat, where the pelvis tilts forward with the torso, stretching the ends of the muscles apart.  At this stretched position they provide a slight rebound out of the bottom, which will look like a “bounce.  The tension of the stretch pulls the tibia backwards, the posterior direction, balancing the forward-pulling force produced by the quadriceps, which pull from the front.  The hamstrings finish their work, with help from the adductors and glutes, by straightening out, or “extending,” the hip.

To summarize, we want to avoid partial squats.  We want to train ourselves to drop the crease in our hip below the top of our knee.  As we develop our squat and strengthen these different attributes, we need to learn to find this depth on our own.  The medicine ball does hold us accountable for this depth, but it comes at a price.  The ball can provide us with an outside bounce.  Try doing tabata squats with and without a ball, or Fran, or Cindy.  Most of us will see a noticeable difference.

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