Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Athletic Body In Balance

A few years ago, I ran across the book, Athletic Body in Balance, in Barnes & Noble. I flipped through it pretty quickly and didn't think that much of it "Yeah, ok, some movement screening tests... That's pretty cool. Yeah, I could probably use that with some kids"... and then I ran across the following which made me immediately stand up straighter and take notice:

A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and makes the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost.

Is this a revelation? Well, it was to me at the time. Up until then, I had always started teaching beginners how to squat from the top down, and adding box squats where necessary. After reading that one paragraph, I began spending more time in the hole with my beginners and even some intermediate lifters and almost all of them showed immediate progress.

Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook has been out for a while now and you can see his influence as far as functional movement screens and assessments all over cyberspace in S& C articles and in bodybuilding message boards, but if you haven't read this book, do so ASAP.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sandbag Work

An interesting video from ashwix at YouTube:

Saturday, October 27, 2007


In Japanese, there is a proverb "初心忘れべからず" (shoshin wasurebekarazu) which means "One should not forget the beginner's mind." The phrase can be interpreted in many different ways, but I take it to mean:

1) Remain humble, no matter how far you have come, and...
2) Approach your craft with a curious and open mind

Since creating the Squat Rx videos, I've fielded a lot of criticisms - some of them coming from people with backgrounds in exercise physiology who quote studies claiming squats do not recruit the hamstrings... I wish people such as these would spend more time in the squat racks and less at their keyboards, but their comments have helped me take myself a little less seriously and tested my humility.

After cooling off a bit, I took time to contact Coach Mark Rippetoe, the author of Starting Strength, who was very generous with his time and knowledge. Speaking with an expert like Coach Rippetoe about coaching and lifting was a humbling experience, and I mean this in the best possible way - I realized that, even after spending the last 20 years squatting, studying, and coaching, there is so much more to learn, even with things as seemingly simple as coaching cues and drills.

The best in any field seem to know how to maintain their "beginner's mind" and my conversation with Coach Rippetoe was evidence of that. He asked me a number of questions about my experiences with swimming and kettlebells and it was clear that, here was a man, who loved his craft and never tired of asking questions and seeking answers. Coach was very happy to hear my feedback on a recent article he had done for the CrossFit Journal, and even sent me an NSCA article that he had published about strength training for fencers, asking for feedback.

I've been overwhelmed with the attention and opportunities that Squat Rx have given me and I look forward to continuing the series. The Japanese proverb, "One should not forget the beginner's mind" will be included as part of its mission statement.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Welcome to the Squat Rx Blog!

Welcome to the Squat Rx blog everyone! I hope that you will stop by to discuss strength and conditioning, powerlifting, kettlebells, and, of course, squats. I'll be updating the blog as often as possible with links, articles, interviews, videos, thoughts, and training. I look forward to hearing from you.