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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 11:24 am 
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Kronos, I wanted to expand a little more on where i'm coming from in terms of measuring "risk".

I think everything starts with movement. I don't mean isolated joint motion, but integrated full body movement. Squatting, hinging/deadlifting/bending(all same thing), stepping, lunging, pressing, reaching, and rolling. You can dig a lot deeper if you go into rolling and crawling patterns which we develop before we have develop the ability to stand up or walk.

This all just refers to "function" we instinctively learn. We are not taught any of this. This is a very vast area with a lot of notable experts and trains of thought, and a lot of research into different areas of it.

There are a few different ways of measuring movement. Over the years i've swayed towards Gray Cook. The reason is that his methods "comply" with the methods of other experts from other related fields. So, McGills stuff works with Cooks, Boyles works with Cooks, Cresseys works, Sahrmanns works with it - even a lot of what you read about best technique from from powerlifting experts fits with all of these. For me, Cooks way of viewing things pulls it all together and makes everything straight forward.

If you out train your capacity to move, you will be in pain, if not now, you will be eventually. Measure and monitor your movement and you then know what you should and should not consider as training options.

Cooks first book, Athletic Body in Balance has a "self movement screen" in it, which is designed for the health conscious lifter to screen himself, find dysfunctional patterns, make appropriate training modifications to, 1: reduce your immediate risk and, 2: fix the pattern. His latest book, Movement, goes into far more detail, gives you the full screen (and more), plus all the scoring criteria.

BTW, both books have loads of references.

For example, if your "In Line Lunge" has a low score, you stop loading one leg as you will only build strength/fitness on top of an underlying dysfunctional. So you remove the things that could be making things worse, and you add things that will help restore the pattern.

If a pattern presents pain, you get a zero on all screens and you seek a medical professional qualified to deal with the pain. This is quite crucial for trainers - if a pattern presents pain, the client is already injured, and they don't need a trainer, they need a clinician. Therefore if a trainer doesn't screen, then he may not even be aware that a client IS injured already.

I get a sneaking suspicion that I've given the impression that i'm a "no pain no gain", guy (cheeky reference to a facebook comment). I have actually lost out on a few clients because I refused to train them before they seen my (or any) physiotherapist. The screen revealed pain, so they were already injured. I am very strict about pain.

So your movement patterns determine what's available and what isn't. You can only add in the things you removed once you have cleaned up the dysfunctional pattern, re tested it, and scored better in it. Then the devil is in the progression. If I remove back squats from someones program who shouldn't squat, when I add it back in, we don't go straight to back squats. It would be, for example, goblet squats, front squats, box squats, back squats.

Remember, too, that your CNS governs everything, especially pain. The study of pain in itself is a massive subject. Pain is created in the brain - NOT by "damaged" joints. Joints don't feel pain. Movement at a fundamental level is representative of your brains control of the body. It's a test of neuromuscular efficiency, not just stability or mobility. Compensation in movement tells us that "something" isn't right with the system, and we're at risk if we do much more. It's like "limp home mode" in your car when you have an engine fault. There is risk, and if you don't identify it before you add more miles, you're likely to end up with a serious problem.

So, we can measure risk by measuring movement. It definitely won't be perfect but it is evolving (and has been for years, btw). It's the best we have at the moment. The reason i buy into it so much is because it helps us achieve better performance (S & C), the same principles also help us get out of pain (rehab world), and it adheres to "biomechanics", too, and most of all, it considers the brain.

Although I'm quite young, i've had a couple of muscle tears, a couple of tendon tears, a ruptured ligament, damaged cartilage, and various bouts of pain. I remember thinking I just had the same injury appearing in different locations of my body. I actually think that's one of the smartest conclusions i've ever came to because, when I worked to fix my "movement", everything started to miraculously disappear, then I got stronger than I'd ever been, and this is how the movement obsession began. This is when I wanted to "give back", and when I decided to become a trainer. These are the same principles I have based everyones training on (Movement).

KPj

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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 12:09 pm 
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Kenny, will you come to Halifax and put me through a screen?

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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 1:10 pm 
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stuward wrote:
Kenny, will you come to Halifax and put me through a screen?


you don't really want it Stu. If you're as restricted as I was when he did mine it's too humiliating!


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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 4:35 pm 
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stuward...u live in Halifax?..I'm just across the border..on the right side...lol


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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 4:43 pm 
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stuward wrote:
Kenny, will you come to Halifax and put me through a screen?

Aw, Kenny. Say yes. Stu would be happy to pay your expenses.

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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 4:49 pm 
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Actually, I can probably get screened on base for nothing so NO, I willnot pay his way.

Stu, which border are you talking about, Dartmouth?

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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 9:24 pm 
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KPJ, you nailed the reason I haven't been squatting much lately. It really seems to hit my lower back more than anything. I end up wearing my back out and not getting an optimal workout for legs. I end up doing a lot of leg press and hack machine, both 45 degree sleds. I'm wanting to get into belt squats. That looks like the ultimate quad exercise.


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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:25 am 
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stuward...no, the Penines...I take it u're not in that Halifax then....I'm in Lancashire.


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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 4:16 am 
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Stu 1966 wrote:
stuward...no, the Penines...I take it u're not in that Halifax then....I'm in Lancashire.


No, the other one.

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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 6:01 am 
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Ironman wrote:
KPJ, you nailed the reason I haven't been squatting much lately. It really seems to hit my lower back more than anything. I end up wearing my back out and not getting an optimal workout for legs. I end up doing a lot of leg press and hack machine, both 45 degree sleds. I'm wanting to get into belt squats. That looks like the ultimate quad exercise.


I think it also explains the popularity of Good Morning type exercises among the more advanced powerlifters. It seems to be a staple for a lot of PL's.

I injured my knee a few years ago and couldn't squat. However, I could do reverse lunges - I could actually Box Squat if I sat back far enough but the physio told me, "no bilateral", so I did what he said. I ended up training front squat grip reverse lunges as if they were a main movement, and got well over half of my squat max for several reps quite quickly. I also done this off a step, to get more depth. When I got back to squatting a had barely lost any strength. Before then I just threw in single leg movements and didn't take them very seriously but, from then on I looked at them differently. Not too long after that Mike came out and said he had omitted them from his training programs in place of Bulgarian split squats because the back being the limiting factor made squats a poor choice (he was actually doing front squats... He got rid of back squats about 10 years ago).

There's an old eastern-European article floating around somewhere talking about how they used the Step Up to strengthen the legs. It's pretty much for the same reason.

I've noticed that you can rep significantly more than half your squat max with not just bulgarians but, step ups, reverse lunges, and forward lunges, too (Ronnie Coleman was one of the few recent bodybuilders i've seen using single leg movements, he loved walking BB lunges. Again, you'll get well over half your squat max for reps but only when you've really nailed form).

The issue with single leg stuff is the learning curve. It takes a while to get competent enough to add much weight. Up until then it just feels like a test of balance so the likes of leg presses are a good option to go to straight away but, I would consider some single leg movements in the long run. Bulgarian Split Squats are especially brutal on the quads (but then again, so is the leg press).

KPj

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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 7:28 am 
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KPj wrote:
The issue with single leg stuff is the learning curve. It takes a while to get competent enough to add much weight. Up until then it just feels like a test of balance so the likes of leg presses are a good option to go to straight away but, I would consider some single leg movements in the long run. Bulgarian Split Squats are especially brutal on the quads (but then again, so is the leg press).

KPj

I was sort of hoping that this was the case. I'm doing Bulgarians again now, just trying to get good at them, not go heavy. But I'm hoping that I'll get the hang of them and be able to take the weight up later. Every time I've done any unilateral legs, I've just dabbled for a few weeks and moved on to something else. Now I'm committing to the Bulgarians for the long haul.

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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:00 am 
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When I have someone who can't do single leg work, we just plug away at it in the warm up with just body weight. I always start with the basic split squat and make it perfect. The biggest issue I have with older clients is flexibility in the rear leg. I use step ups with a controlled "step down" in the training sessions to teach control of the hips/knee in a single leg stance without being restricted by the back leg, whilst working on that flexibility during the warm up (for clients with certain restrictions, I'll ask them to either do the whole warm up every day or, a few movement from it to help speed things a long).

When the split squat is perfect with bodyweight, I add that and reverse lunges into training sessions, I now use a "goblet grip" first, as it's easier to stay upright. When they get good I actually go for reverse lunges off a step - calling more on that flexibility again, but not quite as much as bulgarians. Then we go to Bulgarians.

You could just plug away at Bulgarians. I need to worry more about providing a good training effect and not frustrating people so I need to be a little more tactical. I would go bodyweight-goblet grip-DB's-barbell, too, in terms of loading.

BTW, by the time someone is doing Bulgarians in the actual training session, they will be doing single leg deadlift variations in the warm up, too. Among other things, I see the warm up as a "feeder" for the training sessions. So, normally when we start "loading" one variation in the session, we will be learning a progression in the warm up.

For me it's also about "skill" or "athleticism". For example, if you can nail a single leg, single arm deadlift, you'll have the skill to do Bulgarians with your eyes closed.

KPj

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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 10:46 pm 
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Your description is exactly right, it sounds like you have watched me train. Single leg stuff ends up being more about balance than anything. I can do lunges and split squats, but not with much weight, because it's hard to balance. I can do a pistol only if I hold onto something to keep me from falling over, same with single leg calf raise. On the split squat I anchor myself to a bench with my back leg. Sometimes I do a sort of half lung have split squat. When I needed to correct an imbalance in leg size, I did single leg hack machine, which is by far the most comfortable, and easy to load heavy.


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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 8:09 am 
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Kronos--Are you OK with the way this thread is going? I don't think any of us mean to highjack it, but it seems to have taken a natural turn. If you'd like, I'll break out the stuff on single-leg work.

Anyway...
KPj, I'd like to know what you mean by "perfect" in basic split squat, step up, rear lunge and Bulgarians. Again, I'm happy to go up and down without toppling over!

Split squat, I don't think I have issues with. Just balance when I load up the bar.

Step up, the main thing I've noticed is the difficulty in using the lead leg, and not "jumping" with the bottom leg. And, of course, balance when I load the bar up.

I haven't done rear lunges, mostly because they didn't feel that much different than front lunges to me. Maybe that's because I'm doing something wrong.

Then the Bulgarians. I gave them an extended run a few years ago, loading with dumbbells, and worked up to a pair of 50s. When I came back to them later, I found that a barbell gave better balance, so I have used it since. Better, that is, in terms of frontal plane stability, but I'm not sure but what I have "issues" in the sagital plane. I have to really work to stay upright, and keep my shoulders back. Lately, I've been doing bodyweight sets and a few sets with the 45 pound bar. When I tried to load the bar, I didn't like the way I rocked around with weight on my spine, so I went back to the empty bar, which I seem to control OK.

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 Post subject: Re: squat question
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 9:44 am 
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I'm best starting with split squat, this is where i type too much and too fast. However, when you get your head around the split squat, the same pretty much applies to other progressions. The key is not turning it into a lower back exercise, and the key to that is in the hips - which will also prevent your knees screaming, too. When your weight shifts forward the knees and lower back get it.

We are going for the "90/90" position, where the knee and hip angle of the back AND the front leg is at 90degrees. If you can imagine from the back knee in this case and a side on view, you'll have a straight line up through the hip to the ears, practically vertical. You want that rear hip extended, and not taking the extension from the lower back. On the front leg, the shin will be vertical, too, in the 90/90 position.

In short, for a perfect split squat, you'll be in the 90/90 position, the front knee shouldn't move forward over the toes, it also shouldn't cave inwards, and the torso shouldn't lean forward at all.

To achieve this, you need a neutral pelvis (pelvis position is key!). If it's tilted anteriorly, you will lean forward. In fact you will begin the movement with a forward weight shift if your pelvis is tilted. Watch your belt or waist, it shouldn't be pointing to the floor. To "fight" this, you need to squeeze the glute of the REAR leg and think about making yourself tall (this point alone should change it for you, well, if you don't do this already). I also tell people to imagine a door is right in front of their face (so if you lean forward, you get a sore nose!). Weight should be on the front heel.

To keep your alignment in check, you can get a dowel/stick, and hold it behind you against your back, one arm at the lower back and one arm at the neck, and make sure it stays in contact with your head, upper back, and glutes.

I'm sure you can't view videos? However, I refer mostly to Mike Robertson, and here's one of his videos explaining all of this - http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blo ... lit-squat/

I do what he does, and start it from the bottom position as a stretch. You get down there into the 90/90 position, get up tall and squeeze the rear glute - normally a great stretch on the rear quad/hipflexor. Raise the hands above the head to intensify it. When the stretch feels like less of a stretch, we come up a few inches and hold for 10-15 seconds. When that's a little easier, we do reps. When reps are easy with all the above taken care of, we're ready to slot it into the training session.

Also, this is where the value of doing core work in the half kneeing stance is. For example I'll do a pall of press in a half kneeling (90/90) stance. It's like being in the bottom of a lunge with someone trying to push you over whilst you resist and fight to maintain the 90/90 posture described here.

There's also a great stretch, called the "wall hip flexor stretch", which you perform in the same position and is good for building your split squat.

Somewhat bizarrely, I don't even train the split squat much with myself or clients, tending to lean towards other variations. However, I prioritise getting it perfect before we do any single work at all.

KPj

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