The Squat and the Press: Get More Bang for your Buck – By Rick Meldrum

27 Dec

I’ll admit it, I’m a simple man. I like craft beer, liftin’ weights, and wearing Chubbies shorts. I also like to employ the K.I.S (Keep It Simple) method whenever possible. To get the most out of our constantly varied training of movements, we need to try and consolidate movement patterns into as few as possible. Keeping that in mind, I want to talk about two things, the squat, and the press.

Lets take a look at the squat first. What I propose is that the mechanics of the squat, from the hip down, should remain the same for every kind of squat. This would include everything from the basic air squat, the squat snatch and even the low-bar back squat. Ideally, we should be working towards having our feet somewhere between hip and shoulder width apart, toes pointed relatively straight, and driving the knees out as far as possible. Anyone who squats in my vicinity will tell you my favorite que is “When in doubt, knees out!” The idea here is that we’re forcing on having a little bit of foot supination, or creating a hard arch in the foot, by forcing those knees out sideways past our foot. In doing so, we’re creating a great deal of torque and a stable position in which to squat. Everything below the hip stays the same. The only thing that changes, as a result of bar positioning, is the amount of torso inclination.

Now the same theory can be applied to the chest press motion (i.e. push-up). At the shoulder joint we experience extension and internal rotation. What we want to happen during the push-up is a completely perpendicular forearm to the floor at the top of the movement and creating a 90 degree angle at the elbow joint at the bottom. The hands wont be directly underneath the shoulders, but actually behind it a few inches. I like to use the analogy of the bench press as a way to communicate this. Almost everyone has bench pressed at one point in their life, and you didn’t bring the bar straight down into your throat (I realize this is an assumption but lets not admit to anything damning). When you bring the bar to your chest it’s very natural to have the elbows somewhere around 45 degrees and the bar touches your chest around the nipple line. If that’s the case, than why drop straight down for push-ups and ring dips? The movement pattern should remain the same, again the difference being the position of the torso.

The idea I am trying to convey is that if we consolidate movement patterns and strengthen them, we get more bang for our buck. If our squat always demonstrates the same mechanics, there will be more transference from the backs squat to the front & overhead squat and to the Olympic lifts. If we ingrain in our head these same motor pattern for pressing, and then every time we do push-ups or ring dips, we’re also building up other movements such as handstand push-up and the bench press.

Think of it this way, like the Hindu Goddess Shakti, there is One Goddess, but she takes many forms in the avatar consorts of Vishnu, Shiva, and their lower avatar consorts. What the f*@k did I just say? There is but one hip and press movement with many applications.

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