Do This EVERY Time You Squat!
What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. Today I want to show you one thing to do beforeevery time you squat that I promise is going to help you. If you have knee problems, this is going tobe an absolute Godsend. Trust me. As someone that has knee problems myself,it’s going to change the way you feel the next time you step under a bar.
Second, if you’re someone who feels likeyou can squat more, that you should be able to squat more than you are, I promise thisis going to help as well. But it starts with defining what the squatis. Biomechanically, to me, it’s a marriage,a synchronization between the amount of knee flexion you get and the amount of hip flexionwe get. We know that hip flexion is critical – thehinge is critical – for posterior loading. So, we need to have both components becausethis movement is, and always will be, driven by the glutes.
This is a glute movement. We can feel this for ourselves. If we were to take our hands and put themon our butt, and we go down here, and we let the knees go – you’ve probably seen peoplesquat like this, by the way. You let the knees go. Not only is this a recipe for disaster forpeople with knee pain, a lot of times it’s people that have knee pain that are doingthis, too. Which makes it worse. But you get no glute activation here. Likewise, if I were to take my hands and keepthem here and go more to a straight hinge, I definitely feel more activation here inloading of the glutes without the contribution of the knees.
But we don’t feel nearly as much as we dowhen we get the two working together. We’re getting a hinge and a knee flexionat the same time. So, we know we need to get those two workingin concert. The best way to do it, to prepare ourselvesto squat, is not the squat because if you already have these issues, if you’re alreadyperforming the squat with a lack of that proper contribution from both the knees and the hips,then what you need to do is focus more on that main muscle driving that. And that’s the glutes. We do that over here.
This is with a hip thrust. We could do it up here on a bench and a barbellhip thrust, classic barbell hip thrust. It’s going to require more range of motion,but even as a beginner activity, or someone that’s been squatting for a long periodof time, but hasn’t done this prior to doing a squat, try it here from the floor becauseit’s going to be very simple. Again, I’m not into spending a whole lotof time doing this, guys. You guys know I don’t waste a whole lotof time with warmups. The fact is, what we’re trying to do isneurologically wake up the muscles that are supposed to be contributing to the squat inthe way that they do when we squat.
That is, we need to get the hamstrings andglutes to work together, and we need to get them to work together through flexion. Combined flexion. If I get down here on the ground what doesthe hip thrust do for us? Well, here’s flexion of the knees. I’ve got flexion of the hips. What we do is train the hamstrings and glutesto work together because we know the hamstrings have a secondary role beyond knee flexionto drive us into hip extension with the glutes. That’s what the hip thrust does. So, I take the bar, I drive it down into mythighs, and I lift up.
Now, I hold it here. Again, I’m trying to awaken the musclesof the posterior chain. We’re going to explain why in a second whenwe go back to the bar, why it’s so important. But I want to wake them up and I want to getthe hamstrings and glutes working together, which is exactly what the hip thrust does. I drive and allow myself to feel the hinge,number one, but control it as well. That’s going to be important when we goback to the bar. So, we come up, and then feel the hinge aswe go back down. Now, a secondary thing we could do here, whichI think is beneficial, is to allow the feet to get a little closer together, and the kneesto drop out to the side. What this does is externally rotates the hipsand gets the glute medias contributing as well.
Which is usually very dormant, or inactive,or not necessarily willing to be ready to squat unless you do something like this. So now we perform the repetitions like this. So, you could do two sets. Either both of them with the knees furtherout than the feet, or alternate. Do one set straight ahead and one set down. Why does this work so much? Well, even during that bridge we have somedegree of flexion-extension of the knee. Which helps to warm up that knee, for thosethat have, even some issues with knee pain because they’re not properly warmed up.
More importantly, what’s happening is whenyou have an unwillingness to load posteriorly, the knees take the brunt of it. So, if I get under the bar here and I don’tload posteriorly, I tend to be more knee-dominant. The knees keep traveling forward, and theykeep travelling as you go down, taking on the load, down and into the knee cap. We call it ‘hanging out our tendons andligaments’. Our connective tissue. We get a lot of strain, particularly on thepatellar tendon if that’s the case. We need to be able to load more in the posteriordirection. So, we get up here and with a willingnessto do so, we can get our glutes involved here so we can sit back.
Take that anterior force off the knee. More importantly, the hamstrings, as we’vesaid, that were active on that hip thrust are trained to eccentrically control hip flexion. Remember, they have a secondary role. Forget knee flexion. Hamstrings are not flexing your knees to getdown to the bottom of a squat. They don’t do that. Gravity takes you down. I don’t have to flex my hamstring to getme down to the ground. What they do as a hip extender is, they eccentricallycontrol hip flexion. So, if I have eccentric control here of hipflexion, I can get down there in a confident way, to be able to position myself with aproperly loaded backside.
Now, how does it fix the ascent? The second, and most important thing you cando from the bottom of a squat is synchronize your upper torso and your pelvis to move together. From here, straight up like that. If you lack either activation of the glutesor proper strength of the glutes, what winds up happening is you’ll get a de-segmentationof your torso and your pelvis. So, you go down, you might look good, andthen you do this. There, up, and then up. De-segmentation. Down, come up, you load there, you bail becauseyou don’t have proper – you’re not driving the movement from your glutes – you turnit into a low back until the glutes can contribute, and then you come and try to do the rest ofthe work for you.
If you do the hip thrust, you’ll train yourbody to let the glutes be the main driver. That is a glute-driven exercise. Let the glutes be the main driver of the movement. Especially from a hinged, flexed position. That will carry over well, to the point whenyou get down to that bottom of the squat here and you’ve got to drive up with a straightbar path. As soon as you do that the bar path has changed. You want to be able to come from there andlet the glutes drive straight up. And if the glute medias is active as well,the knees will be able to maintain that proper, outward positioning that we know we need tomaintain proper mechanics of the squat from the bottom to the top.
Quickly. Don’t make it a big deal. Start your workout over there, then come backover here. Just two sets, about 6 to 8 repetitions, holdfor three or four seconds at the top, and then come over here and do this. I promise you, if you’re somebody with kneepain like I mentioned, you’re going to feel so much better just by doing those two setsbefore here. And cumulatively as you do this, of courseyou’ll be working your hip thrust into your regular training as well, you’ll start toget less and less problems over time.
And for the guys that should be squattingmore, sometimes it just comes down to an activation. You just don’t have proper activation beforestepping under the bar and repeating the same pattern here with the squat itself. It’s not enough to break that pattern thatyou get from targeting them directly through the glute bridge. If you’ve found this video helpful, leaveyour comments and thumbs up below.
If you haven’t already, subscribe and turnon your notifications. Also, head to ATHLEANX.com. Start using the science. Put it back into what you do. It will help you get more results out of yourtraining, a lot faster. In the meantime, finish this, do your workout,and of course, you’ve got your face pulls, as always. Always at the end of every workout. Add this, guys. I promise it will work just as well. See you soon.