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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 09-01-2007, 07:41 PM   #1
Matt DeMinico
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Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

I've got a buddy I'm training, and he's actually quite strong already, but he has issues going to full depth when doing back squats because of flexibility. He can basically get to just about parallel before his butt winks. What do I do with him in this situation? When doing unweighted squats, should I have him go to a full squat depth (even though his back rounds)? When doing weighted, I'm pretty sure it's wise to stop at the point his butt winks, until he can gain flexibility to go deeper, right?

Same sort of thing happens on the deadlift, he has issues going into the low starting position, and so he uses his back more than he should. But he's a mover (like lifts heavy TV's, fridges, etc all day), so he's used to using his back for now, but eventually it's going to catch up with him.
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Old 09-01-2007, 08:12 PM   #2
Sarena Kopciel
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Re: Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

In my humble opinion--I think to improve the squat--one just has to SQUAT! Have him keep squatting--use airsquats. Have him do 10 every hour or some crazy thing like that--GTG! Tell him to think he has to void in the wild ..... More squatting equates to better squatting!
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Old 09-02-2007, 04:26 AM   #3
Brian Degenaro
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Re: Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

In my opinion, not much flexibility is needed to squat, at all. My older brother is overweight, out of shape, and has NEVER done a single squat in his entire life. In two workouts I got him squatting below parallel, back flat, heels down, and balanced every single time. Two workouts later and his back squats are textbook. His squats are looking almost as good as mine are.

Now what did I do? I pulled out every little trick about squatting I knew and the first two sessions we spent just squatting for 25 minutes, sometimes more. For half an hour or more, just have your client squatting. Give him every cue possible: big chest, butt back, shoulders back, eyes forward, weight on heels, spread the knees, etcetera. Not all at the same time, but break it up; use two cues every ten minutes, take a 5 minute break and then another two cues. As Sarena said, more squatting gets you get at squatting; but also throwing in these many cues in one session provides for better motor learning. The body has to adapt to various "stresses" and movements put on it and adapt. Multiple cues (done smartly: 10 minutes of 2, 10 minutes of another) put on more stress on the CNS and body than just doing one per session. The body then adapts at a faster rate and adapts to each stress equally. That's how my brother is squatting textbook after four workouts.

The biggest thing I've noticed when it comes to getting deep is spreading the knees. If done properly one should get right into the hole and out very easily, and you know you're doing it right the first several times when you feel a good to a nasty stretch on the inside of your thighs. That was the limiting factor with my brother because I made him do that as soon as he told me he wasn't flexible enough to squat and he made it easily. On a personal note, whenever I do close grip overhead squats I make a strong note to spread my knees so I can get deeper; it's the only way I can stay balanced and break parallel.

Squatting doesn't involve much flexibility in my opinion; it's all a matter of teaching someone proper form.

Last edited by Brian Degenaro; 09-02-2007 at 04:33 AM..
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Old 09-02-2007, 05:55 AM   #4
Elliot Royce
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Re: Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

While I don't disagree with Brian's prescription, I don't agree that everyone is flexible enough to squat deep (at least at first). After 20-30 years of life in front of a computer screen, the hip flexors are shortened and there can be many other imbalances. Also, injuries can have a long term effect.

I have made great progress over the past year getting deeper. Doing lots of squats is key, starting with air squats and then moving, when the form is right, to some weight which will help to push you down. I would never compromise form to get lower -- that's a recipe for injury.

For me, using lifting shoes with extra heels really helped. Some will say that it's cheating and slows adaptation but I think the opposite is true. It puts your hips in the right position so you learn the proper form. Then as you progress, you can drop the heel height.

The rest of the advice in terms of pushing knees out, etc. is all consistent with what I did. It just can take a long time for some people. Still, it's great to get both stronger and more flexible from the same exercise. I love squats.
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Old 09-02-2007, 05:58 AM   #5
Boris Bachmann
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Re: Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

"A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost."

-Gray Cook
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Old 09-02-2007, 06:14 PM   #6
Matt DeMinico
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Re: Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

Thanks for all the tips on getting him lower. I know everyone CAN get low, but like I mentioned before, it seems some people just are so tight back there that their butt winks when they go past a certain point, no matter how many things they're doing right. I'll try these on him and see how soon we can get him squatting correctly.
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Old 09-02-2007, 07:51 PM   #7
Patrick Donnelly
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Re: Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

Squat Rx #1: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Rq8CWv8UP...elated&search= (Work/Family Safe.)

There are some good stretches in there that may help him.
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Old 09-03-2007, 12:26 AM   #8
Ben Moskowitz
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Re: Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

To steal some Dan John golden nuggets from an interview I was listening to, here's his list, from most-applicable/easy to long-term stretchy:

1. Goblet squat (can be done isometrically/PNF as well by contracting and relaxing the adductors)
2. Mr. Universe Chest/Buddha belly (breathing to sink into a lower position, usually done with someone's knees supporting your lower back)
3. Drop into a squat while holding onto a pole or something. Your partner grabs you by the hip crease and pulls, maybe with a belt or towel. Your hips have one option - dropping.
4. The classic hip flexor stretch, a.k.a. Sampson stretch less the overhead part. this has two nugz of suggestions
a) Squeeze your knees together. I don't know if this means laterally or front to back. I do know that "front to back" would be an isometric stretch. I tried out the lateral contraction (adductors) in the CFWU today and I think it puts the hip flexors in a whole new position for stretching effectively. "Whoa."
b) Make sure your torso is actually vertical. The best way is putting a kettlebell or dumbell overhead while in the stretch.


I have been trying to incorporate the first two by just doing them whenever I remember and have an opportunity to. Between just simply squatting, the CFWU, and "squatting for flexibility" (and maybe even my weak attempts at stretching regularly) I think my mobility/flexibilty has improved.
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Old 09-03-2007, 04:34 AM   #9
Jay Cohen
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Re: Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

. After 20-30 years of life in front of a computer screen, the hip flexors are shortened and there can be many other imbalances. Also, injuries can have a long term effect.

Elliot;

Not to hijack the thread, but have you considered Rolfing as a possible solution to your long term muscle in balance? I have a few friends that for one reason or another were pretty whacked out muscle balance issues, both went thru the 10 sessions, said it helped. I'm heading into session #4 this month, looking to get every edge fitness possible as my opponent is the aging God and from what I've heard and read, he never looses.

Jay

Sarena, nice Zen wisdom.
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Old 09-03-2007, 09:07 AM   #10
Elliot Royce
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Re: Training people without the flexibility to do a full squat

Jay:

Happy to try anything...where would I find a practitioner?

Thanks,

Elliot
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