With every body part lies an exercise synonymous with its supposed optimal development.  There can be no more illustrious a pairing than the legs and the squat. However, just because the two are so frequently linked in training literature does not automatically grant its hegemonic position.

Who’s Right? Like many theories within the confines of this industry, be it a nutritional approach, training methodology or even individual exercise, these things are tools and are seldom the absolute answer to solving a problem. It’s my opinion that it’s no different in this case and no doubt the squat, in any of it’s given variations is a phenomenal tool for lower body development, providing it can be executed with technical proficiency of course. Yet due to the complex nature of the squat pattern and the fact that our natural mechanics are being altered by the unprecedented amount of time spent on our derrieres, has resulted in an extremely low percentage of people with the mechanics to perform a full squat. Although the squat may not be the one and only exercise as a “primal movement pattern”, purely as a movement it is something that should undoubtedly be integrated into a complete training regime.

Below is a lower body workout we use to both increase performance and develop the mechanics for the full Olympic stance Back Squat. The program involves an extensive warm up and mobilisation drill used to release frequently tight musculature around the hip, which can hinder movement and restrict optimal recruitment of muscles such as the glutes. The foundation exercise is what many consider to be the prerequisite to a successful squat; the safety bar box squat. I learnt this valuable lesson from David Beattie, World Champion Power Lifter and one of the first guys in the UK to squat over a 1000lbs! It is also a concept widely promoted by Louie Simmons and the West Side Barbell system.

Why Box Squat?

Although some will cry that box squatting will elevate the risk of knee injury,  if we sit back and let common sense prevail I would reason that some feel their knees because they have a weak supportive musculature around the knee joint and not because they are squatting to a box. Yet as this is a concern for some we will be using a wide stance which if executed correctly places little sheer force on the joints, as well as providing a warm up routine designed to fully mobilise and activate necessary components vital to the squat pattern. The Box Squat acts as the ultimate teaching tool as it allows you to drill in important technical cues whilst being under load in a safe environment.  This is simply the best way to learn to squat and I would advise it as a starting point for all those wishing to master this democratically elected King of exercises.

Warm up

Hockey Ball: plantar facia
Hockey Ball: Piriformis Foam Roll:
IT Band Foam Roll:
Inner Thigh Mobilisation:
Mountain Climber Mobilisation:
Saigon Squat Stretch:
Hip Flexor Stretch:
Piriformis Activation:
Hip Thrusts Activation:
TKE (Terminal Knee Extensions)

The Program

Order

Exercise

Reps

Tempo

Sets

Rest (secs)

A1

 Safety Bar Box Squat

10-12

4010

3

60-90’s

B1

Hip Thrusts

10-12

3010

3

60’s

B2

KB swings

20

3020

3

60’s

C1

FFE DB Split Squat

10-12

3011

3

60’s

C2

Back Sled drag

2 lengths

XXXX

3

60’s

D1

Leg Press

25

3010

2

60’s

 

 

Written by David Lewis