The Game Changer is the Squat, just in case you didn’t know. Read my blog Meathead.
The thing with the Squat is that even though most good trainers and coaches recognise how effective they are, Squats are poorly taught and once taught hardly coached.
When I see guests come to the gym I run (not Darkside) it’s usually a disaster; here’s what I usually see and how to fix it.
Issue – They don’t know how to use a Power Rack; this alone shows what a total disgrace the fitness industry is.
Fix – Ask! That was simple. If you don’t know how something works and there’s a member of staff available then ask. I am amazed by the reaction when I ask “would you like me to show you how to adjust the rack?” Usually a look of disgust as they turn off Lady Gaga and ask me to repeat myself. How dare I disturb them with a potentially life changing / or even preserving piece of advice.
Issue – Connected to the first issue; the rack height is too high. The lifter, really using this honourable term in its loosest meaning, is then forced to have the bar in a position where little upper back tightness can be achieved. This usually causes the lifter to fall (as in body lean) forward.
Fix – The correct rack height is so the bar is easily racked on completion of the set. The bar should be positioned on the upper back, not the neck.
Issue – If the lifter has done this and still falls forward.
Fix – Make sure that the upper back is tight. As the lifter positions the bar they should visualise bending the bar across their back; not merely trying to balance the bar there.
Note – When lifting loads at a high intensity (1-3RM, 90-100%) pretty much all missed lifts will be missed forwards. Here I am talking about form breaking down at lower intensities.
Issue – Limited range of motion (ROM); the classic Quarter Squat (or less!).
Fix – Box Squat. This encourages the lifter to sit back thus being able to Squat deeper.
Note – When I’m coaching the Squat 95% of the time I get the lifter to switch to Box Squatting. Often the Box Squat will be enough to allow them to achieve their goals.
Even with experienced lifters I will have them Box Squat on a regular basis; it keeps the correct Squatting motion ingrained.
Issue – The knees fall in.
Fix – You never see the knees pushed out too far do you? There’s your answer, push your knees out. Jim Wendler uses the command “show your groin!” Obviously this command can only be used in certain environments, and the gym I work at is not that environment – unless I say it very quietly.
Issue – And finally, many trainers think too much about staying in the right position and as a consequence they execute the movement too slowly; which in turn brings about poor movement.
Fix – Simply ascend quickly. This is an issue which is usually seen amongst beginners, and sometimes those poor saps who decide that slow lifting is a good training philosophy. It really is amazing how many issues can be fixed with the simple command “up fast”.
So now you know what to do, get to it.