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Picking the Squat that's Right for you

Author: By Greg Nuckols at http://www.schwarzenegger. | Created: Sat May 11 01:31:28 UTC 2013 | Last Updated: Mon Jan 06 05:27:57 UTC 2014

The common wisdom that every good program is built around squats could not be more true.  The squat utilizes almost every muscle in your body, teaches you to use your muscle synergistically, and is the cornerstone for producing 26+ inch wheels that set the serious lifter apart from the casual gym-bro.

The common wisdom that every good program is built around squats could not be more true.  The squat utilizes almost every muscle in your body, teaches you to use your muscle synergistically, and is the cornerstone for producing 26+ inch wheels that set the serious lifter apart from the casual gym-bro.

However, as evidenced by incessant questions and multitudes of form checks around the internet, as well as disgusting squats marring the racks of gyms across America, a lot of people simply don’t know how to squat.  Sure, they know the basics: point your toes out a little, break parallel, don’t let your weight get on your toes.  But beyond that, they have no idea how to troubleshoot the squat to maximize it for their leverages.

Before we press onward, I want to explain my criteria for the choices I made.  The choices I made represent the squat style that will let the most people possible develop the primary muscles in the squat – the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors – as evenly as possible.  That means that if a squat style will inequitably stress a particular muscle group, causing it to fatigue before the others get the desired training stimulus, it’s not the squat for you.

The anatomical variations we’ll be considering are extra long femurs, extra long torsos, degree of abduction at the hip (how well you can push your knees out), and ability of the ankles to dorsiflex (allowing the knee to track forward).  The variables we’ll be considering for squat style are footwear, bar placement, and stance width.  We’ll start with the most difficult cases, and work toward the easiest.

Let’s start with the long-femured trainee.  Typically this is the guy who can deadlift a house, but whose squat lags a couple hundred pounds behind.  If this is you, I’m sure you’ve experienced, time and again, that your biggest problem is pitching forward in the hole.  To keep your weight over the middle of your foot, you have to lean waaaay over to counteract your long femurs.  For you, your primary objective is picking a squat style that keeps you as upright as possible, decreasing that forward lean so your spinal erectors don’t always give out before your legs and hips.

For you, there are two options.  If you can get good abduction at your hips (push your knees way out to the side), doing so “shortens” your femurs, giving you less distance you have to compensate for with forward lean.  If this is you, flat soles, either a high or low bar position, and a moderate to wide stance will allow you to stay upright and engage your quads, hamstrings, and glutes in the movement better.

This is actually how I have to squat if I want to break parallel with a bunch of weight (and actually stand back up with it!):

 

For the compete article go to http://www.schwarzenegger.com

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