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What Squats Aren’t Teaching You About Strength

“Just squat”, heck advice that pretty much anyone can wrap their heads around. However, does it matter which squat? Are all squats equal? Should we focus on some squats more than others, how do we progress squats? So, while it may make for a great social media meme or workout t-shirt, in reality it tells us very little. 

Without such information we just default to training ideas that may not be as thoughtful as we think. Most notably, that the heaviest squat leads to the biggest strength and functional development. Sounds reasonable, but it leads us down the wrong path and is an overly simplistic view of both strength and developing more complex fitness and strength.

you want squat meme - What Squats Aren’t Teaching You About Strength

If all things are equal, then that would be true, but we know there are other variables of our squats that we do have to consider. When we think about strength, most will think solely in terms of amount of force to be developed. Yet, the late, great sport scientist Dr. Mel Siff pointed out that this is only true in context of specific conditioning (like postures, direction of movement, and other variables). Because if we took that blindly then we would all choose the leg press because we can be more stable and produce more force on a leg press than even a squat. However, we know squats challenge more elements of strength and are often preferred to leg presses. 

I’d love to say that it is as simple as “just squat,” but you wouldn’t be getting the results you want. While it isn’t as simple as just squat, it isn’t rocket science either. 

squats

The Goal of The Movement

When we think of a movement pattern, we have to go back to what is the most efficient and effective ways for our body to create movement. After all, our body was designed to function outside of the gym, not in it. That means sometimes what we do in the gym is very foreign to what our body is meant to do and wants to do in producing movement. The squat is a good example as many issues with low backs and other orthopedic and movement issues can be traced back to excessive sitting and poor chairs (a whole different post). 

What happens specifically when we sit too much is our body loses the coordination of natural movement patterns as well as becomes weaker (because we are artificially supported). That means we lose movement in the ankle, knee, and hip complex which is serious! It is this connected series of joints that allows us to be more resilient to low back issues, be more powerful/faster, and is necessary to squatting in more natural environments. 

What you see these great DVRT coaches show are the ways we can reestabilshing the movement pattern of the squat and build better ankle, knee, and hip mobility by using these different positions and loading postures. Why does HOW we load the body matter? It can empathize the connection that our core has to our lower body and can help us work from relying on stronger core tension to more complex squatting patterns. Love real coaches showing smarter solutions!

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Squats are often a go to for any fitness program no matter the goal. There is good reason, we know squats overload a large number of muscles and helps us build strength that can potentially translate to many aspects of life and sport. However, sometimes we chase squats that aren’t the best for our ability to keep getting stronger while not beating up our body. ___________ So, is this just about getting you to use Ultimate Sandbags? On one hand, yes! That is because we can use a tool like our Ultimate Sandbag to build strength but also make our body move better and be more resilient. That somewhat goes to the fact of what we do with the weight that makes us better overall. ___________ How so? We know from research that placing a load in front of the body is JUST as good as building strength in the legs as back squats but without the negative stress to the spine and the knees. A 2009 study by Gullet et al concluded, “The results suggest that front squats may be advantageous compared with back squats for individuals with knee problems such as meniscus tears, and for long-term joint health.” Along with “The front squat was as effective as the back squat in terms of overall muscle recruitment…” Even when the front squat weight was LIGHTER than the back squat. ___________ So, what does this have to do with the squats we are showing you here? The positioning of the Ultimate Sandbag allows us to create tension that helps us engage our core to a higher level and give stability to our spine and better mobility to our hips. Changing our stance allows us to increase the muscular demands on the body because our body has to both produce force and stabilize itself. __________ There are other tools that can allow us to build in some progressions, but the point is that most miss how beneficial other tools and functional training concepts can be because they only focus on load. Instead, we should focus on what builds better movement and teaches our body how to move more effectively and efficiently. ———- Great job @dvrtfitness_uk @larisalotz @corymcripe @evan_the_personal_trainer @passionfitness4life

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Thinking Deeper About Your Squats

Recently a powerlifter on social media asked me if I really thought someone with a heavy squat and deadlift would struggle on some of these movements we are going to show you. I said, not only do I think that is the case, I have seen it!

A wonderful powerlifter I was trying to help go from an 800-900 pound squat struggled to perform a lateral 60 pound Ultimate Sandbag step-up. This very true story and countless others like them don’t discount the use of bilateral squats, but tells us we can’t think only in terms of them or think they are the best ways to improve functional strength. 

We know the movement strength that is needed to perform a cossack squat or step down squat is a lot more difficult than a bilateral squat. When we are more stable, we can lift more weight, that is the obvious stuff to see. The work and muscular balance our body must use to perform these other drills shows us that there are things we can’t see that are making our body work at the highest level. 

When we combine these elements with holding positions, we can a series of squats that we can use to help accomplish specific goals. That is better than guessing or just throwing in random squats into your workouts and wonder why you aren’t getting better since everyone says they are so great?! Let’s check out the concept of holding position.

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What is the difference between squat the exercise versus squat the movement pattern? It can be really confusing so do these differences matter and how do they impact how we use the squat in our workouts? ___________ When we think of a movement pattern, we have to go back to what is the most efficient and effective ways for our body to create movement. After all, our body was designed to function outside of the gym, not in it. That means sometimes what we do in the gym is very foreign to what our body is meant to do and wants to do in producing movement. The squat is a good example as many issues with low backs and other orthopedic and movement issues can be traced back to excessive sitting and poor chairs (a whole different post). ____________ What happens specifically when we sit too much is our body loses the coordination of natural movement patterns as well as becomes weaker (because we are artificially supported). That means we lose movement in the ankle, knee, and hip complex which is serious! It is this connected series of joints that allows us to be more resilient to low back issues, be more powerful/faster, and is necessary to squatting in more natural environments. ___________ What you see these great #DVRT coaches show are the ways we can re-estabilshing the movement pattern of the squat and build better ankle, knee, and hip mobility by using these different positions and loading postures. Why does HOW we load the body matter? It can empathize the connection that our core has to our lower body and can help us work from relying on stronger core tension to more complex squatting patterns. Love real coaches showing smarter solutions! ____________ Great work by @fitprosarah @30minutesofeverything @rdpaget @passionfitness4life @jessbento_physiotherapist @thesandmaven

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Holding Position of Squats

My social media friend that I mentioned above also had a hard time believing that anything but a barbell back squat can be awesome for strength development. Again, we have the most stable, balanced, and therefore, easiest position to hold weight with it on our back. However, that doesn’t make it necessary the most productive. 

Why we emphasize holding weight on front of the body is because we have less negative stress on the low back and get MORE engagement from the core while gettin gate SAME amount of muscles worked with load on the back. These more challenging positions make our body work harder in more different ways so that is how a lesser weight can equal same amount of muscle, but smarter strength and less stress on low back. 

Each position is differentd, even if they LOOK similar. That is why we systemize how we use our holding positions in our squats to help people understand which of the squats they should be using. That is the most important part, knowing the why’s. It is a lot more powerful than you think.

Imagine that most people hate to exercise because it hurts. They keep trying to make themselves do the movements that they are told “work” but in reality other forms of squats would work so much better. That is why we keep saying in DVRT, it isn’t about doing everything exercise but the RIGHT exercise. When it comes to squats that is so important!

Find out more in our DVRT online educational programs that are 20% off and save the same on our Ultimate Sandbags with code “save20” HERE 

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Is it impossible? All of us are home trying to do the best workouts possible, but we don’t have a lot of equipment. So, is it possible to use exercises like squats and still get really strong? If we have the right thought process and system to what we are doing the answer can be a resounding YES! That is why we are so adamant about our #DVRT system. Simple ideas that can be powerful solutions. When you see what @precision_movement and @joelgun10 show you will see how possible it is to get strong with limited equipment. If you don’t have a roller stand like Joel has think of using your couch, a short stool, in other words there are many options you have at home to still use these great strength training ideas! ______________ ➡️Check out why these 8 DVRT squats represent an opportunity to make your home training the best workouts you have done yet!. Go to the 🔗 in our BIO for the full article of great squats to add to your home workouts!

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