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Not All Squats Are Equal!

squats

Greg Perlaki, DVRT Master UK (Creator of DVRT Dynamic Core Warm-ups)

When it comes to lower body exercises most people would agree that squats are essential components of training. Some people love it and can’t get enough of it whereas others might hate squats and tend to avoid them whenever is possible. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Personally I’ve never had any issues with squatting. I’ve always had good mobility in the hips and ankles and structurally I can go quite deep in the squat. However DVRT completely changed how I look at this movement  and how to approach it with my clients.

squats

At some point I made a conscious decision NOT to do Barbell Back Squats in my personal routine anymore because of the load on my spine was too much. As soon as I moved onto Front Loaded and other type of DVRT Squats not only my back pain disappeared but my training regime got way more balanced and started to enjoy the challenge of different body positions and angles that I was able to hit and constantly getting stronger as the result.

Now I no longer see squats as leg exercises only but total body movement.

Whole Body Integration 

Sure everyone squats, a lot of people do front squats too so what makes this type of training unique? The biggest difference I see in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is the intention.

Intention to connect the whole body through the natural chains. It’s about integrating the core, lats and glutes. One of the best way to do this is the Press Out Squat. There are two key components that make this type of squat a success. It’s gripping the Ultimate Sandbag with the hands and grabbing the floor with the feet. The answer is so obvious that most people tend to overlook it completely.

Pressing out does NOT mean counter balance. Breaking the Ultimate Sandbag with both hands actively engages the lats and turn on the core which is so vital in squats. In regards to the feet the best way to ensure the feet are engaged is using a mini band. I also find teaching squats and other movement patterns too is like re-training the mind to engage the right muscles. If us coaches are able to do this more effectively than our clients results will get better.

Press Out Squats can help the youngest lifter to those that just never quite patterned that perfect squat. Thanks to Tampa Strength for the great demo!

When we think about what makes a squat good squat is the qualities that build it up. These are:

  • How the feet are engaged with the ground
  • Ankle, knee and hip mobility
  • Bracing the core and integrating it with the lats and glutes (whole body tension)

Resisting force and not just producing it

Resisting The Frontal Plane 

The idea of real world strength means that we should only squat as much as our core can handle. However that doesn’t mean we can only challenge the core with a bilateral stance or evenly distributed weight.⠀

DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is unique in a sense that movement patterns are not only systemized and easy to follow but also allow people to succeed and find the best squat for them. However as we’re progressing with our DVRT training the ‘ideal’ squat changes. In fact in order to get better at squatting we might need to work on something different that build up the qualities of the squat.

One of the common movement compensations happen in the frontal plane. I see this daily with different type of people when we introduce lateral movement in their program.

squats

Firefighters are a great example of people that REALLY require high levels of frontal plane strength.

Body positions like Half Kneeling, Split Stance or Sprinter Stance help to address these compensations with subtle changes in the client’s position and  as a result they become more efficient using muscles that meant to work together. These concepts are great for emphasizing pelvic stability, resist frontal plane forces and integrating the whole body.

One of the ‘Big 6’ that represents the DVRT System  

The Shoulder Loaded Sprinter Stance Squat is one of the ‘Big 6’ that represents the DVRT Training System.

It’s kind of the higher end of the spectrum in squatting and it highlights the possibilities where we can go with our strength training.

The Sprinter Stance is a heel to toe positions (back heel stays ELEVATED to keep the pelvis neutral) the weight distribution is 60% on the front leg and 40% on the back leg. This allows creating more instability to the movement and makes this squat true multi-planar. The lifter needs to resist rotation and lateral flexion in the trunk.

Another important aspect of the Sprinter Stance however is the ability to train individual limbs. As most people are not symmetrical this creates an opportunity to work on more single leg strength bridging the gap between bilateral and single leg movements. When muscles like the obliques, lats and glutes work more efficiently in the Sprinter Stance preventing lateral motion it results getting stronger general, especially if we decide to go back and do bilateral movements.

Why doing a shoulder load? 

When the Front Loaded position represents the front plank, the shoulder load of the Ultimate Sandbag stands for the side plank in a more dynamic way. Keeping the Ultimate Sandbag on the shoulder doesn’t just mean resting on the body. To prevent lateral motion it requires an active pull to keep the lats packed and start a chain reaction of integrating the core and glutes together. The key here is to resist any side to side movements. A mirror could be useful to identify these compensations.

Using our Ultimate Sandbags or Kettlebells allows to do more asymmetrical loading and cross patterning squats. This is impossible to replicate with barbells.

How Do I Train For The Shoulder Loaded Sprinter Squat?

As mentioned earlier working on frontal plane stability is key for finding those leaks in our movements. That’s no better way to start then on the ground. Side Planks are a great place to start especially the way the DVRT System teaches the side planks: starting with the legs bent 90 degrees and really emphasizing the glutes, core and opposite lats. Side Planks can be part of our warm ups, finishers or even part of the main workout.

Another thing is to incorporate more Half Kneeling exercises (like Arc Presses, Press Outs) to your routine to integrate the whole body and get used to resisting forces not just producing it. This also leads to doing more lunges general and even split stances or step ups. Building up strength endurance is important too and a fantastic way of doing that is the Up Down.

Being progressive in training is crucial for keep getting better and varying the holding positions could be the answer to find those weaknesses that we all have. Let’s say you include squats three times a week among other movements. You can do the following:

Week 1)

  1. Bear Hug Squat 
  2. Front Loaded Squat 
  3. Front Loaded Lateral Squat 

Week 2)

  1. Fist Loaded Squat 
  2. Front Loaded Sprinter Squat 
  3. Single Arm Kettlebell Lateral Squat 

Week 3)

  1. 1 & 1/4 Front Loaded Squat 
  2. Fist Loaded Sprinter Squat 
  3. Shoulder Loaded Sprinter Squat 

This is just giving ideas what can be done with different holding and body positions when it comes to squatting however please DO NOT take this as the ultimate guideline to master the Shoulder Loaded Sprinter Squats. Different people have different abilities and most often than not it takes months and years practice to learn a complex movement like this. If you’re not sure where to start follow one of our movement strength programs for further guidelines.

Learn more about how functional fitness can change how you see training. Check out Greg’s great program HERE