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Don’t Jump Before You Squat!

By Chris Volgraf, CSCS
Senior Exercise Physiologist

After assessing thousands of clients over the years we’ve found that the vast majority have a lack of function or pain while attempting to perform particular movement pattern (like the squat or hip hinge).  Clients who fail to perform these movement patterns in a functional, pain free manner benefit from a professional’s insight on corrective exercises that clean up faulty movements like immobile hips and ankles, knee instability, poor core stability, immobile shoulders…and the list goes on and on!

Once we have “cleaned up” faulty movement patterns, we can then progress to strengthening that pattern to further improve health and performance.  It is a common mistake to see an individual loading or adding resistance to an already faulty movement pattern, which will only reinforce the compensatory movements.  Bad form is usually caused by the wrong muscles trying to do a job that they are not designed to do. 

Once you have established a good foundation of strength, you can start to introduce speed into the movement pattern (a squat in this case), to improve the individuals power. The strength of the muscle allows the individual to deliver force…the speed at which they deliver that force in the right direction is power. An example of adding a power component to a movement pattern is the Jump Squat.  The speed of the jumping movement and the strength of the involved muscles generate enough explosive power for the individual to get airtime off the ground.
 
A Fitness Assessment, like the one performed at Princeton Longevity Center, will determine what your limitations are.  Fixing your functional limitations allows you to safely increase strength and generate more power in the future. Progressing through the FunctionàStrengthàPower Continuum out of order will guarantee a future injury. Unfortunately many people wish to run before they walk (or jump before they squat!!).

Below are two examples of proper progressions of common functional movement patterns - The Squat and The Hip Hinge (bending over at the waist):

1Squat Progressions: Easiest to Hardest

  1. Squat Corrections: Heels Elevated and MedBall Assisted to offer Counterbalance. You must clear the squat before strengthening!!
  2. Load Squat with Barbell
  3. Squat to Press to incorporate total body movement
  4. Jump Squat with Medicine Ball or Hack Squat Machine (Power)

                                                

 

2Hip Hinge Progressions: Easiest to Hardest

  1. Hip Hinge with non weighted bar at spine to promote flat back
  2. Romanian Dead-lift Non Loaded + Loaded Barbell
  3. Single Arm Kettlebell Romanian Dead-lift
  4. Single Leg Romanian Dead-lift Non Loaded + Loaded Kettlebell
  5. Dead-lift Snatch with Barbell or Kettlebell (Power)



 
 
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