Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Anatomy Of A Squat

Have you ever seen Kirk Karwowski squat a heavy weight? He eyes the barbell knowing he’s going to own it. He then places his hands on the barbell, and pauses for a moment before he dips his head under the barbell to rack it across his back. 
Driving his chest forward and his head up, he strongly nestles the barbell into place. He settles in his hips, with his feet directly below. With a few quick pants, he looks up, inhales, tightens the core and with a powerful drive, releases gravity’s hold on the 600-1,000 pounds loaded on the barbell. 
From there, watching his footing with as little neck flexion as possible, he takes three short steps and his head comes back up. He takes a few pants, inhales and holds it with the hips and knees flexed as the weight descends into the hole, and then he rises. There’s little shaking. There is no bounce—a place for everything and everything is in its place.  
Bruce Lee, one of the most famous martial arts of all time, said, “The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity. Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch and a kick was no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch and a kick is just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity—the ability to express the utmost with the minimum.”
To express the utmost with the minimum—This is exactly what you see when you watch someone like Kirk Karwowski or Wade Hooper squat. There’s no wasted movement.
- From "Squat Talk" by Boris Bachmann (podcast available from

1 comment:

pantsaregood said...

I continued to progress in weight after I previously asked you to check my form. The error that I noticed (that probably wasn't immediately obvious in the videos) was that, upon approaching the hole, I lose tightness and bounce out. I know that some people advocate use of the stretch reflex out of the hole, but it seemed that I was essentially slamming my hamstrings into my calves to get out of the hole.

Today I used box squats to attempt to control my form a bit better. They allowed me to focus on staying tight in the hole. While doing this, I realized that I haven't been pulling my shoulder blades together during the squat.

Would it be inappropriate to use box squats instead of standard squats on a linear progression routine? Perhaps only use them until I feel like I'm properly in control?

Also, to make sure I'm doing them right:

I see that I rock a bit on the box, but only to completely deload the weight. You appear to do something similar in your brief discussion of box squats.

I also notice that I feel a much strong contraction of the glutes here than I normally do, and the cue "spread the floor" makes sense with these.