THE BARBELL BACK SQUAT…The setup and the movement
Aloha ALL, Coach Ryan here to put out some tips on the “Absolutes of the Barbell Back Squat ”. My goal is to provide you, the mountain athlete with the knowledge and support to set yourself up success in gaining strength while back squatting and prevent injury. I wanted to clear the myth that the Barbell Back Squat is for “LEG DAY”, well it actually focuses and depends on the stability and strength of your core area. Now here are some tips to set up under the bar, position your body and move efficiently while squatting.
1. Barbell height should be at armpit level. Many times individuals will set bar height too high then it becomes a calf raises or tippy toe off the rack. This wastes strength needed in the movement itself, instability throughout the body and an unsafe position.
2. Create a solid-stable core position when unracking the barbell. Brace core by taking a short breath into the stomach and pushing the abdominal wall out.
3. Body Position: Hands are generally placed outside the shoulders, bar is right at base of neck along the upper trapezius and along the shoulder. This is known as the high bar position. Common mistakes are bar too high on the neck and creates discomfort to lifters. Elbow along the side of the ribcage and point down to the floor. Feet are generally slightly outside the shoulder toes pointed forward. Toes may be angled out slightly for different body types to support a great depth in squat.
4. Getting off the rack. With a braced core, the lifter will place feet under the bar and maintain position as outlined in step 3. Because the bar will be lower than the chest it will create a “lifter wedge”. This is where you will be in neutral spine position and braced core to drive the bar up and off rack. Lifter will maintain a braced core and take 2 steps back off of the rack. Just 2, Just enough to clear rack j-hooks. Many times we take too many steps off the rack again waiting for strength needed in the actual movement.
5. The Movement. Lifters is now off the rack, while performing the Valsalva maneuver, breathing in, pressing the abdominal wall out, holding breath. This will brace the core area. Lifters will lower hips and chest at the same rate of speed. Smooth and controlled. Hips will open, the backside will go back, lifters will maintain that postural integrity with a neutral spine. Weight on the feet should be equally distributed onto the “tripod foot”. This is very important. Common mistakes or improper coaching cues are to place weight in the heels. Maintain the equal weight through the “tripod foot”. Lifters should be having the mindset of pushing feet through the floor throughout the lift. Barbell is lowered until knees and hips are parallel with a hip hinge and bending of knees. All body types are different. Parallel positions will look slightly different for everyone. On the ascent while driving the “tripod foot” through the floor and maintaining a braced core by using the Valsalva technique, the lifter will ascend from the bottom parallel position and on the way up the lifter cna release breath. During the push the drive should come through the feet to the posterior chain, focusing on being upright with glutes really powering the lift. Many mistakes are that glutes are not “fired” or contracted and this lift becomes a heavy load on the low back and quadriceps.
TAKEAWAYS…focus on setup, body position, toe angle, tripod foot, hip hinge, creating torque, and postural integrity
Stay tuned for the next session with Coach and his movement reviews and disciplines of strength coach!