Monday, September 3, 2012

Tools for perfecting your squat: The squat-to-stand

The overhead squat is the most difficult version of the squat because of the mobility required through the joints to produce the full squat movement along with the overhead movement. It demands complete mobility through the ankles, hips and the thoracic spine. Mastering the overhead squat will make the basic squat movement a breeze.

Enter the squat-to-stand. Introduced by Gray Cook, the squat-to-stand is probably the best way to teach the overhead squat. Cook prefers to teach the movement from the ground up, referring back to when we were babies and learned to stand up from a squat. The squat-to-stand consists of 4 steps:

1) With a shoulder-wide width, or slightly wider stance, bend down to grab the toes. If your flexibility doesn’t allow you to do so with straight legs, bend the knees as necessary. Don’t worry, your flexibility will catch up soon enough.

2) While holding on to the toes, pull yourself down into a squat stance while keeping the elbows inbetween the knees and shoving the knees out. Really focus on getting the chest up and staying relatively straight through the spine. Do not over extend the neck either, look at a spot around 6 feet in front of you.

3) While remaining in this squat position, extend your arms over your head and try and reach for the ceiling. Focus on keeping the arms in a slight Y shape, not necessarily straight over your head. You may not be able to get into this position, and that’s a sign of restricted thoracic spine mobility.

4) Keeping the weight on the heels, stand up.

Here’s a video that explains the above 4 steps. 

If you have very restricted mobility (and a lot of people will fall into this category), focus on only the first two steps for now. When the first two steps have become easy, add the last two.

Adding the squat-to-stand as a warmup movement before some heavy squatting is a great idea. An even better idea would be to perform 3 sets of 8 of the squat-to-stand every day to remain mobile and keep the hips healthy. Try it out, stay consistent with it, and your squat form will feel amazing

1 comment:

  1. This is super. I have no problem with the first two steps, but I'm aghast at how little thoracic mobility I have.