SQUAT | NEUTRAL
The foundation of any squat movement. Completed in an unloaded environment this is a generally safe movement and can both expose and help develop flexibility and strength through a full range of motion in the hips, ankles, and knees.
Establishing a proper depth that allows for all other points of performance can both help athletes find and build strength in a specific range of motion. It’s also a great option for those dealing with any hip or knee issues to automatically limit the range of motion when required. If “pausing” on the box it can help build explosive strength as well.
Box step down
The box step down can be a great way to help athletes understand single leg control and show any imbalances or favoritism. Starting with going to the toe will limit range of motion a bit and allow for athletes to have more control at the end range of motion. Transitioning then to only the heel touching will increase the full range of motion. This is a great tool to see if athletes have the strength for single leg control required for the working leg in a pistol.
Double Kettlebell Front Rack Squat
When holding a true front rack position this increases the athletes need for posterior chain strength. Especially the upper back. It can also place more demand on flexibility in the hips but is a great alternative if there are issues with a traditional front rack with a barbell.
Adding in forward momentum creates the need to decelerate and control the weight unlike our other variations. Some may prefer “traveling” in their lunging due to the feeling of momentum which should be noted.
Holding a true front rack position will transfer into any clean variation and force a more upright torso in the squat. Loading will be limited comparatively to the back squat and the option to “bail” when there is no spotting option provides a safe alternative to other squat variations.
Front foot elevated split squat
Elevating the front foot increases the range of motion requirements on the front leg. This is a necessary addition in order to help athletes reach a full range of motion at the hip where the hip crease would be below the knee.
A simple and effective way to introduce loading without the use of a barbell. The goblet squat shows the capacity to control loading through a full range of motion in the squat, develop strength, and in some cases help counterbalance, helping to create a more upright torso.
High bar back squat
The high bar position allows more loading than our front squat variation and often transfers well to our Olympic Lifts. Those looking to develop capacity there should choose this option to help build significant leg and midline strength compared to the other squat variations.
Low bar back squat
The low bar position brings the bar closer to our center of mass, therefore often allowing the most substantial amount of loading. Those looking to develop the most posterior chain strength that can potentially carry over to the deadlift should look to this option. It doesn’t not require as upright of a torso as the high bar squat and allows for hip drive out of the bottom of the squat.
The increase in the lever arm while holding the barbell overhead requires more demand on the midline and particularly shoulder flexibility and stability. This should only be done when flexibility allows for proper position and is the gateway to athletes learning the fundamentals of the snatch.
The pistol generally requires the most flexibility of any of the movements listed above. Interestingly, it can also be the most limited when it comes to external loading due to these requirements. The value of single leg strength can be accomplished in a variety of ways and a pistol is simply one of them.
Rear foot elevated split squat
Some call this a Bulgarian Split Squat and if it sounds like that you know it’s tough! These are often one of the most beneficial single leg movements for those looking to develop strength. They both allow for significant loading on the working leg while still providing an element of balance with the non-working leg. They also require significant flexibility in the hip for the working leg… we should all likely do these more often!
By requiring a start and finish position now we are asking our working leg to take on more of a role. The reverse variation is often easier on many athletes knees due to there being less stretch in the hip with the trail leg. These are great for the benefit of single leg work and building confidence for more single leg variations down the road.
This variation allows us to have a true open chain movement. The rear foot being elevated and working leg requiring significant strength and balance capabilities makes this an excellent tool for even advanced athletes. Field sports requiring single leg strength and stability can benefit from this simple but challenging movement.
This introduces a true open chain movement requiring both single leg strength and stability along with balance. Both the hip and knee will be working hard to show this capacity and these are an excellent tool for single leg strength development that won’t put as much stress on the knee as a traditional pistol.
An often underestimated and underutilized movement this is a great way to build single leg strength in a more controlled environment and even has the potential to see significant loading. Some research shows that developing significant single leg strength provides less loading on our spine and can be just as beneficial if not more than the bilateral variations. Food for thought!
The use of a barbell allows us the potential to have more loading in the frontal plane. It also requires a more upright torso, teaches us to avoid hip drive out of the bottom of the squat when needed, and develops back strength that applies to all other squat variations.