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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 04-13-2009, 10:33 AM   #1
Steven Webster
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Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

I hear that if you relax your muscles just as you get to the parallel position and drop into a full squat you can take advantage of the stretch reflex and bounce out of the bottom position.

1. Are you putting more wear and tear on the joint by freefalling into the squat?

2. Is a controlled descent better to build strength?

3. Can you bounce out of the hole just as well with a low bar squat as with a high bar olympic squat?
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:07 AM   #2
Rayna McGinnis
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Re: Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

I would think that bouncing into and out of a squat position is cheating yourself. It's kind of like bouncing the bar on deadlifts. If you can't do a controlled squat into a deep (below parallel) position with a certain weight, you shouldn't be squatting that weight.

at least that's my personal opinion.

As far as safety goes, what happens when you drop 250 lbs onto your knees when they're already in an insecure position? I'd imagine the outcome isn't good.
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:11 AM   #3
Sean Dunston
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Re: Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Webster View Post
I hear that if you relax your muscles just as you get to the parallel position and drop into a full squat you can take advantage of the stretch reflex and bounce out of the bottom position.

1. Are you putting more wear and tear on the joint by freefalling into the squat?

2. Is a controlled descent better to build strength?

3. Can you bounce out of the hole just as well with a low bar squat as with a high bar olympic squat?
Control.

You PULL yourself into a squat.

If you relax yourself into a squat or "fall" into it, your form is going to be shyte, and you may just end up hurting yourself.

/rant
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:14 AM   #4
Thomas Green
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Re: Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

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Originally Posted by Sean Dunston View Post
Control.

You PULL yourself into a squat.

If you relax yourself into a squat or "fall" into it, your form is going to be shyte, and you may just end up hurting yourself.

/rant
True dat. Relaxed muscles at the bottom of a low bar squat = busted kneecaps = you never are able to squat again. Besides, it's the stretch you feel in your hamstrings that allows you to transfer the downward momentum back up. Only way to get that stretch is through a controlled descent.

Last edited by Thomas Green : 04-13-2009 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:16 AM   #5
Jamie J. Skibicki
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Re: Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

I'm going to disagree with you two on this one. Weightlifters pretty much freefall in to the bottom position (third pull anyone) and they bounce out of the hole (which the the point, stretch reflex is your friend). The key is keeping the back tight. If you relax your back at all, you lose al the stretch reflex and set yourself up for injury.

If you are doing the squat suggested by Rip, then I would slow the descent a bit because you don't have a whole lot to stop you at the bottom.
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:17 AM   #6
Christian Mason
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Re: Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

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Originally Posted by Steven Webster View Post
I hear that if you relax your muscles just as you get to the parallel position and drop into a full squat you can take advantage of the stretch reflex and bounce out of the bottom position.

1. Are you putting more wear and tear on the joint by freefalling into the squat?

2. Is a controlled descent better to build strength?

3. Can you bounce out of the hole just as well with a low bar squat as with a high bar olympic squat?
Louis Simmons and some of his guys are big proponents of a fast descent on the squat, so I'd venture that yes, you can bounce out of the hole well with a low bar, wide stance, powerlifter style back squat.

I'd also suspect that this is getting into slightly risky territory, I'm not saying taking advantage of the stretch reflex is bad, but your use of the term "free fall" makes me nervous.

If your goal is simply to lift as much weight as possible, by all means do power lifter style squats. I think if you're crosstraining for athletics there are probably better ways. Before I stir the pot any further, search for the old threads Greg Everett posted in about the high bar back squat.
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:47 AM   #7
Shane Skowron
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Re: Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

Even if you're "bouncing" out of the squat, you're still lifting the weight unassisted. If you bounce a deadlift, you're using the elasticity of the bumper plate to assist you, and therefore not doing the full movement. Difference.
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:49 AM   #8
Kevin Thomas
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Re: Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

Bouncing out of the hole on a squat is encouraged by Rip and others, but I don't think anyone thinks relaxing anything on the way down is a good idea. The only way to get a good stretch reflex bounce is if your hamstrings are tight - not relaxed. Personally, I need to be in control of myself at all times while squatting. Better squatters probably can remain tight and in control with faster bar speed than I, but I would think that is a pretty advanced technique. ie, if you have to ask strangers on an internet message board, you probably shouldn't be trying it.
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:40 PM   #9
Robert Callahan
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Re: Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

As Kevin said above there is no relaxing to get a bounce out of the bottom.

Lets go over how the stretch reflex works. First off does everyone know what an eccentric contraction is? This is when a skeletal muscle is under tension but forced to elongate. An example of this would be flexing your bicep as hard as you can and having someone pull your arm straight. You are flexing the bicep but the arm is still extending.

All skeletal muscle will experience a "rebound" when it is stretched beyond a certain point eccentrically. This is a mechanism our bodies developed to help prevent injury, it is a last ditch effort by the body to work against a force that is overcoming the muscles strength.

So the key point to take home from all of this is that if we relax we no longer have tension in the muscle, if we no longer have tension we cannot have a stretch reflex. Therefore relaxing = bad. This does not mean you cannot get a good rebound though. As you advance in your lifting career you may get better at descending in the squat and be able to drop faster while maintaining tension, but again this is something that advanced athletes develop and should not be forced by novices.


PS Sean I have to disagree with you, there is no "pulling" down into a squat. When I have 250 pounds on my back I am not pulling anything down, the weight does that more than enough for me. Other than that you are correct though
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:55 PM   #10
Zac Jereb
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Re: Controlled descent or freefall on the squat?

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Originally Posted by Christian Mason View Post
Louis Simmons and some of his guys are big proponents of a fast descent on the squat, so I'd venture that yes, you can bounce out of the hole well with a low bar, wide stance, powerlifter style back squat.
Keep in mind that Louie Simmons is almost always talking about geared lifting. When he talks about a fast descent on the squat he's talking to and about lifters who are wearing squat suits so tight and restrictive that it is actually difficult to break parallel even with 1000lbs on the bar. Any raw lifter will likely need a slow descent in order for it to be a controlled descent.
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