Archives for posts with tag: squat

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
  • 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.




Here at fitcorp we generally screen our clients with something called the Functional Movement Screen (or FMS). It allows us to see how our clients move, pick out any dysfunction, and/or movement compensations. There’s seven movements screened; the scoring is scaled from 1-3, 3 being the best.

If you’ve been following my posts, you know I’ve been dealing with back pain that’s had me out of the game for months now. I was having a casual conversation with my PT director about it and he asked if he could FMS me.  So, as is the standard he first tested my deep squat.

“It’s a good squat, but it’s not a 3.”

Much to my dismay… I was not a 3.

He had me stand in front of a wall and my squat was a different story. I couldn’t make it past parallel and I felt an immense tightness in my mid and upper back. Generally, not being able to stay upright in a deep squat means youre lacking somewhere in mobilty (usually shoulder, tspine or ankle) or motor control (that’s beyond the scope of this post). What the hell! I am the queen of thoracic mobility and squat patterning drills.

There must be some other factor in this equation.

But to be honest, I don’t know what it is. In most corrective exercise theories, you re-pattern movement from the ground up. So my director gave me some drills to get me to a perfect 3. These included supine leg slides and goblet squat with a bicep curl. The third one was face-the-wall squats. In theory you should be able to go into an overhead deep squat with your toes touching a wall. You may giggle at the thought of that but just wait until you fall over approximately 42 times trying it and then come talk to me.

In leu of this frustration I discovered something cool (I think).

The Cable Assisted Overhead Squat

1. Attach a straight bar at the highest setting possible
2. Start with setting the weight at about 2/3 your body weight
3. Stand in a cable very close to the column (like- uncomfortably close)
4. Rock your weight on your heels and start to go into a deep squat
5. Depending on how tall you are, at a certain point your arms will straighten and the weight will start to assist you and allow you to go deeper
6. Hang out at the bottom, tuck your shoulder blades down and allow your hips to open and feel the stretch in your upper back
7. Now try to move your weight into your mid foot and heel
8. Push through your heels and stand up
Decrease the weight until the movement is challenging but doable
This is your starting weight. Perform 3 sets of 15 every day for 1 week and decrease your weight each week

Ignore Steve being a pain in my arse. =)

As soon as I tried this on myself, I had to experiment with someone else. Just in time a member walked by who I knew experienced chronic back pain. I set him in position, cued and spotted him through the movement. What do ya know, I got him in a perfect 3 deep squat. He expressed what a great stretch it was and how fantastic it felt.

I’ll go out on a limb and say I’m probably not the first person ever to think of this theory; but I just may be the first person to impliment the cable machine. I plan on trying this with a few clients I have in mind (and myself) to see if I can progress them to an perfect 3 unassisted overhead squat. I will report back with results.

Try it yourself and let me know how it goes!