Simple Squat Fix: “Owning” Your Rib Position
While squatting is considered a standard human movement pattern, and something that everyone does everyday of their lives, there are a million and one things that can go awry when you place a barbell on someone’s back.
In addition there’s no shortage of coaching cues which are tossed around, that it’s no wonder people are often overwhelmed when it comes to honing in on technique.
Get your air!
Spread the floor with your feet!
Keep your chin tucked!
Squeeze your shoulder blades together, find your shelf!
Push your knees out!
Don’t shit out your pancreas!
Pull down on the bar!
Get your hips through at the top!
Did you leave your stove on when you left the house?
One would think they’re solving some advanced algorithm for space travel than simply squatting up and down with a bar.
And so it goes. The fact of the matter is: when it comes to squatting big weight, you have to be LOCKED in with technique or else some bad things can happen.
However, even if squatting a house isn’t your goal, it still doesn’t mean you should have a nonchalant attitude when it comes to technique, because you “may” be causing irreparable harm in the long run.
One cue that we’ve been hammering at the facility as of late is the idea of “owning” rib position.
This is something that manifested itself after watching a video Bill Hartman released a little over a year ago on using a belt and how many powerlifting go about “getting their air.”
To expound a bit more on Bill’s brilliance, after watching that video I started taking more notes on how people squatted and noticed one common pattern amongst the more serious weightlifters. Not so much powerlifters (although they’re not off the hook), but more so those people who were past the “newbie” stage and had a bit of experience underneath their belts.
Many, to no fault of their own (it’s what they’ve read and have been coached to do) were OVER-arching and hinging more through their lower backs rather than their hips.
Arching the back isn’t bad or poor form. But when done excessively, can lead to some nasty things like end-plate fractures, Spondylolisthesis, and a bad hair day.
Just kidding on that last one.
A perfect example of what I’m referring to is a video I received from a new distance coaching client, Sarah.
To the casual eye her squat is pretty legit. She’s sitting back, keeping a more vertical shin angle, hitting decent depth, and using close to 1x bodyweight (for reps!). What, what!
But to the more keen observer, and to steal a line from one of my heros, Optimus Prime, there’s a bit more than meets the eye.
And before someone has a conniption and starts spouting off about how much vertical videos suck, relax. Deal with it.
If you pause the video at the nine second mark you’ll notice that her initial movement is to hinge through the lumbar spine rather than the hips.
Too, you’ll notice how her rib cage flares out simultaneously.
In going back and forth with her via email, Sarah has mentioned to me that her squat numbers have hit a stalemate as of late, and I have a hunch that part of the reason (if not the entire reason) is because she’s losing stability by not bracing and “owning” her rib position.
In essence, and what I pointed out to her, is that we need to work on keeping her rib cage DOWN and learning to brace more.
Taking it a step further, and something I discussed in a previous video on lunging (see below) is the idea of pretending there’s an imaginary line between her nipple line and her belly button. When she goes to un-rack the barbell she needs to ensure an abdominal brace and to make sure the line between her nipple line and belly button doesn’t get longer.
From there it’s just a matter of making some minor adjustments, getting her to groove the hip hinge through the HIPS and not her the lower back, and then it’s smooth sailing.
I find this is an issue that’s more common than people think, and it parlays into a lot of different exercises from deadlifts to lunges to overhead dwarf throwing.
And I have to imagine a few light-bulbs just turned on for a few people reading this post.
You’re welcome, and that will be $19.99.
This won’t apply to everyone, of course, but hopefully it gives some food for thought. Enjoy the weekend!
Comments for This Entry
BarathShe might over-arch, but her finish is spot-on. Perfect hip thrust to stand up straight. That's something I've been consciously practicing of late in my pause squats, and it makes a lot of difference in how you feel when you're done!
October 4, 2013 at 11:13 am |
BrentFrom what I can tell it looks like she is in excessive anterior pelvic tilt from the get go, no? But women are slightly more anterior tilted than men, so maybe this is just nit picking. Also, something I have considered doing because I have way too much of an interest in learning about proper breathing, is actually putting a piece of tape from the xiphoid process down to just above the belly button. That way, if you excessively arche the tape will start pulling on your skin. Yes, it is a weird and completely awk idea, but I'm mos def gonna try it to see if it helps. The feedback should give me an idea of how much hinging im doing at the lumbar as opposed to the hip.
October 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
TonyGentilcoreShe is extended Brent yes, but she does end her squats with good (terminal) hip extension, so she's definitely able to finish properly. Women do have a little more APT, but she's hinging A LOT from her lumbar spine, which isn't ideal in my eyes. I don't think I'm nit picking at all. Dean Somerset talks a lot about using tape as kinesthetic feedback, so I don't think it's weird at all.....;o)
October 4, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
1000 count – WOD 7.10. - CrossFit Horgen[…] CFH-Link: Fix your squat by fixing your rib-cage (ABSS!) http://www.tonygentilcore.com/blog/simple-squat-fix-owning-rib-position/ […]
October 6, 2013 at 11:01 am |
Monday 131007 | CrossFit NYC[…] for Boobs & A Black Box Halloween Simple squat fix: “Owning” your rib position The handstand pushup CFNYC gets good press…in Brazil! Value of the split snatch for the […]
October 6, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
Jack YeeGreat article. Two quick questions - if you brace down on the rib cage, does that drop the chest? Can we keep our chest up and brace down? Also can you elaborate more on this - rib cage flares out simultaneously. Not sure what that means. Thanks and glad you still alive after Sox/Patriot games last night. Jack
October 14, 2013 at 6:49 am |
Jack YeeJust saw your video - I get the rib flaring out cue. thanks
October 14, 2013 at 10:41 am |
TonyGentilcoreWhen in doubt, watch the video.......;o) Glad it helped out.
October 16, 2013 at 5:46 am |
Jack YeeIf you brace down on the rib cage, will that drop the chest? Thanks Jack
October 16, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
TonyGentilcoreI know it sounds confounding, but ribs down/chest down aren't the same thing. Take the DL for example, we do want to prevent the ribs from flaring out too much so that we don't excessively arch our back and crack ourselves into extension. What we're really after is posterior tilt of the scapulae (not necessarily chest out). So, in theory, we can still keep the ribs down and have the chest up (it just takes some practice). But in general it's ju
October 17, 2013 at 5:18 am |
Jack YeeThanks, Tony PS - there's a heavy debate on "knees out" in Takano's blog. here it is http://www.takanoathletics.com/blog/?p=3289
October 17, 2013 at 5:26 am
Derby City CrossFit | DarkSide Strength | Louisville Sunday 10/20/13 - Going to Haiti: The Trip to Jarvais[…] Simple Squat Fix: “Owning” Your Rib Position Lindsay Valenzuela driven to improve A Scientific Look at Rhabdo and Why It’s Not Exclusive to CrossFit […]
October 19, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
Tassie BethanyQuick question. I find that throughout the day I fall into the "duck walk" stance more often than not, especially when I'm tired. Is this something that should be practiced in day-to-day movements as well? I've been working on bracing my abs and keeping my ribs down and it's worked like magic for my lifts, seriously. I also noticed that my lower back doesn't ache after heavy pulls or squats. This is definatly something I'm going to keep practicing, thanks Tony!
January 9, 2014 at 11:38 am |
The Personal Trainer's Guide to Diastasis Recti › Personal Trainer Development Center[…] Note: Tony Gentilcore wrote a great blog on owning rib position that you can find it here: www.tonygentilcore.com/blog/simple-squat-fix-owning-rib-position/. […]
April 21, 2014 at 8:23 am |
Gerald GalvinGood distinction, thank you
February 25, 2018 at 3:23 pm |