I bet if you got 50 strength coaches in a room and asked which was better: the squat or the deadlift, you’d get 25 coaches saying squat and 25 coaches saying deadlift.

Mass hysteria would ensue and it would look something like this:

Point being, I bet all would agree that both are vitally important in all strength programs. They are the king of all exercises for performance, health, and even fat loss.

Yeah I’d say he’s pretty lean…

However, I work in a commercial gym, and the LACK of squatting and deadlifting is really unfortunate. In reality, 85% of gym members do not work with a trainer, and I’d venture to say 85% of that 85% perform squats and deadlifts wrong, or don’t do them at all.

I’m not just writing this to be a jerk; I want you to know how to do it, and do it right! Most of the time, if I can get you to set-up properly, the movement will happen easily. In my opinion, external tactical feedback trumps all other forms of cues. It has many fancy names… but I just call it “feeling it.” The amount of times I say “How does it feel?” of “Where do you feel it?” throughout the day is borderline ridiculous. For example, one of my favorite uses for external feedback is using a wall for a side plank:

side plank

It is literally impossible to screw up because you have the wall (aka your “external tactical feedback”) to tell your body where it needs to be.

So how does this apply for squats and deadlifts? Well, you’ll need a box, small hand weights, some val-slides, and something heavy (kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell, small child, etc)

To set up the squat:

  • Place the small hand weights at the edge of the box, slightly wider than hip-width apart
  • Stand with your heels up against the weights
  • With kettlebell or dumbbells held goblet style, sit back and down until your butt touches the box. (It’s there, I promise)
  • Pop your chest out like you own the place and stand up tall

To set up the deadlift:

  • Put your toes/midfoot on the bottom support bar of the box. That way you are automatically on your heels*
  • Place val-slides under your armpits and squeeze the crap out of them.
  • Push your hips back and grab the kettlebell
  • DO NOT LET YOUR SHINS TOUCH THE EDGE OF THE BOX
  • Grab the kettlebell and stand up tall

*For learning purposes only, should your toes be off the ground. Deadlifting can be a very unnatural feeling for beginners, and doing it this way teaches you to keep your weight on your heels. Once you get familiar with the movement and start doing heavier loads, having your feet completely on the ground is optimal for force production. 

Now go squat, ya monkey!

There are two kinds of people in this world…. Men…. and Women.

If you’re the latter of the two, chances are you wouldn’t hate to build a better backside. If you’re the former, chances are you want to be big and strong and up your BAMF factor. Guess what: squats and deadlifts are your fast track to awesome.

Enjoy!

-L

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