Four Must Have Squat Variations
As luck would have it, I received the following email from a female reader a few days ago:
Thanks for all of your articles – I find them incredibly informative.
I’ve struggled with knee pain related to running etc. (but unlike other endurance athletes, I enjoy and benefit from actually lifting weights). Well I’ve started to realize that I don’t have a clue how to use my adductors. I tried to use lateral squats to strengthen them, but I’ve realize that I can’t even execute the exercise properly (i.e., I’ve always used my squatting leg only). Do you know of a good way to teach my adductors to fire – for a lateral squat or by using another exercise?
At the expense of making a blanket statement, it’s been my experience that the vast majority of female athletes (guys too) tend to be very quad dominant. Put another way, while a few things come into play, the biggest culprit as to why many women tend to be quad dominant is their Q-angle – the angle at which the femur (upper leg bone) meets the tibia (lower leg bone).
Generally speaking, women’s hips are slightly wider relative to their knees. As such, it’s not uncommon to find their knees falling more toward the midline of the body, creating a greater angle from the knee to the hip.
As a result, many women tend to rely on their anterior musculature (namely, the quadriceps), while the posterior musculature (hamstrings, adductor complex, glutes, etc) – the muscles that play a key role in speed, power, as well as deceleration (which improves one’s ability to stop, then change direction) – take a back seat. This fact alone often explains why women are 6-8x more likely, compared to their male counterparts, to suffer an ACL tear.
Which is why I’m a huge proponent of the box squat. Outside of curing cancer, the box squat pretty much does everything. It teaches the trainee to engage his or her posterior chain more effectively (never a bad thing), grooves proper squat technique (hip hinge), and, when done correctly, spares the knees from a lot of undue sheer force (learn to maintain a vertical shin).
Now, of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and I’m not one to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so please don’t jump to conclusions and assume that all I use are box squats. I don’t. I just think that for many trainees (particularly women in this case), learning how to box squat (again, correctly) is a sure fire way to set yourself up for long term success.
To that end, as I noted earlier, it was pure luck that I received this email this week. Why? Well, as many of you know my good friend and business partner, Eric Cressey, is thiiiiiiiis close to releasing his new product Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.
I don’t know about you, but I’m more of a visual learner. Earlier in the week, I shared a video which demonstrated a few easy tips to help PREPARE the body to squat. Today, I want to show you a video that Eric released which breaks down technique on four different squat variations (box squat included), that will undoubtedly help elucidate on many of the points I described above.
Don’t miss out on this great resource. If it’s any consolation, the guy demonstrating the exercises in the video is one handsome bastard. One handsome, bald bastard – but mostly handsome. And a chest that could cut diamonds.