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A closer look at a Squat movement Pattern


The squat pattern in my opinion is a movement that everyone should be doing in their lives, it helps develop the lower body muscle chains, and teaches the body how to expand and compress appropriately, plus it's a movement we have been doing since we learned how to crawl. So yes it is important to squat and to keep squatting.


Now I have heard so many excuses why not to squat, it's bad for your knees, bad for the back, there are other exercises that can substitute for it, the reward is not worth the risk of squatting, you name it I have probably heard it. Now not to say that those excuses are not valid, because everyone has an experience and it shapes our behavior towards the movement. But those issues stem from poor form while performing the lift or not wanting to put in the effort to perform the lift. If done properly and with intent the bang for your buck it produces is unreal. Muscle mass increase, lean body mass, full body hormone stimulation, bone and joint health, growth and strengthening, and even cardiovascular adaptations.


Everyone should be squatting multiple times a week for optimal health and longevity. As we become less active in life as we grow up we have tendencies to lose range of motion, you will see young kids drop into squats like nobody's business and it's a beautiful sight, and in older adults that movement becomes foreign because they do not perform it in daily life often for the body to keep the memory pattern. The closest it gets is sitting in a chair which is a half squat or so, anything lower than that it can get challenging for people, they feel as if they are stuck, or cannot go any lower and can’t squat deep. Well they are correct but incorrect at the same time, the ability is there we just have to re-teach the body the positions to allow for the movement. This can be done in many forms and exercises, think of a quadruped position now shift the hips back and you have a squat pattern, half kneeling, is a squat pattern, deadbugs can mimic a squat pattern. Now you can do all those exercises until you are blue in the face and as soon as you get on your feet you can't replicate it. Lets introduce gravity and upright positioning and the brain perceives everything a bit different, but cueing the proper muscle chains to stay active and work on breathing will help the positioning.


Squat form will differ depending on who you watch squat or what coach teaches it, the old school strength way that I was taught was chest up, hips back and squat down, over the years I have realized that the optimal way to squat is with minimal horizontal displacement of the hips, meaning hips do not go back instead they stay right under us, the hips should descend down to the heels. This ensures that the posture of the spine and thorax is proper to allow proper movement, allows airflow and pressure to be put in the correct places, so your internal cavity can move about. Starting with body-weight the goal is to be able to squat below parallel and have the ability to sit and breathe in the bottom position, once you have the motor control and learn for that we can start to add resistance to the movement. Next progresion is a weighted front squat with a kettlebell or dumbbell, this teaches the body to control posture of ribs and hips with a load placed anterior and still maintain the appropriate depth. Oftentimes when load is applied the person will sacrifice depth, this happens when the brain recognizes that it has excess load and it requires more energy and demand to gain the depth so we need to get comfortable getting low on the squat with load. If it happens then it can be an indication that the load is too heavy and the person cannot control the thorax and hips to go that low. If this is not trained at the beginning then false patterns of squatting will occur, it is an easy fix just drop the weight down to a lighter load and squat to depths and build up from there. Once you have the ability to increase resistance on the front squat and maintain hip and rib cage posture then we move to the back squat, bar racked on the back. Like the front squat this places a load on the upper posterior ribcage so the body tries to react to that by going into an extended position, when squatting in this position it breaks the synchronization of the thorax and hips leading to poor patterning, and movement quality. Starting with just the bar so the person gets accustomed to controlling their torso while keeping hips underneath, while still hitting the low depth. Then progress and add more resistance to the bar.


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