I want to start this post with an apology, to all the athletes I have coached and to myself. For so long I had been wrong. I have been squatting improperly in my own training, and worse, training squat mechanics with some incorrect pointers to our athletes. So as part of the never-ending quest to improve the training for our athletes I wanted to present this to you all.
WATCH THESE VIDEOS!!!!! http://www.mobilitywod.com/2011/05/episode-250-creating-loaded-hip-stability-and-torque.html
I fell into the trap that just arranging the feet at the bottom of the squat stance was enough to put one into the proper position to hit all of those great squat standards- hips below parallel, knees tracking over the outside of the foot, spine in proper alignment and weight over the heels. Oh how wrong I was! My squat technique and the techniques I taught to clients were lazy. That translated into knees going inward and not being able to adequately correct them, the dreaded “butt wink” and loss of spinal stability at the bottom of the squats. I felt discomfort in my previously injured knee repeatedly and I had some difficulty helping clients through their own hiccups. Well…NOT ANY MORE! I finally had my squatting equivalent of the “Come to Jesus” moment me while traveling and getting some coaching at another gym.
Four years ago there was an article in the CrossFit Journal written by Mark Rippetoe (author of Starting Strength- Get that book!) entitled “You Don’t Know Squat without an ‘Active Hip’” in which he introduced the active hip concept to the masses and attempted to address what is essentially a lazy for m of squatting. The term and concept made sense, but where the rubber met the road for me I had difficulty applying it to practice. I continued to squat without a truly active hip structure until I was introduced to the concept of generating torque through external rotation by the coaches at San Francisco CrossFit. My first thought was “What the heck does that mean?” Which I am sure is exactly what everyone reading this is saying as well. Ok, here is a little explanation and process to generate the proper torque and external rotation force in your hips for squatting:
1. Stand upright with your feet slightly narrower than what has been your usual squatting stance, yet still wider than your shoulders and your feel canted outwards only slightly (less than 10 degrees from straight ahead)
2. Press your feet into the ground through the balls of your feet, midfoot and heels. Imagine you are standing on top of two mason jars.
3. Squeeze your butt as tight as possible and now imagine you are using your hips to turn your feet outwards on the tops of those jars to screw off the tops.(forget the righty-tighty, lefty-loosy saying: screw tops were designed to take advantage of external rotation for right handed people anyway)
4. With your hips active and your butt tight, sit back into a squat. Where you might have previously lacked stability in your hips, you will now find it. You will also find a ton of muscles firing in the squats that up until now remained dormant.
When I first tried this I was sore like crazy afterwards, but quickly those muscles will get stronger and your squats, cleans, jerks, snatches, running strides, deadlifts and just about everything will be improved as you get more capable externally rotating your hips and shoulders. Get ready to see some changes in training this year after this sinks in.
Some additional videos:
Workout of the Day
800 m Run
75 Wall Balls (20/14)
800 m Run