Exercises You Should Be Doing: Deep Squat Press

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Today’s “Exercise You Should Be Doing” has a unique flavor compared to exercises in the past.

1. It’s as miserable as it sounds.

2. The word “deep” is going to be contingent on individual anatomy, overall mobility (ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion, t-spine extension), and one’s ability level to actually squat. Basically, unlike the internet, I’m not an a-hole and expect everyone to squat ass-to-grass.

Likewise, as I’ve stated 717 (+/- 203) times on this site, not everyone can/should press overhead. You have to earn the right to press overhead. Limitations in shoulder flexion have to be taken into heavy consideration here.

That said this exercise is pretty baller, albeit a fairly advanced variation.1

3. It’s two exercises in one! Two is always better than one. Two ninjas are better than one, two pairs of clean underwear are better than one, hell, two sandwiches are better than one.

I mean, when isn’t it?

About the only time two isn’t better than one is Michael Bay movies.

So lets jump into it.

Deep Squat Press


Who Did I Steal It From: Can’t say I recall. But for shits and gigs I’ll say Ben Affleck.

What Does It Do: Works as a nice progression with regards to squat patterning. The asymmetrical or “offset” load provides a fantastic rotary stability component to the exercise. And, of course, the pressing component incorporates the upper body making this a full-body exercise to be reckoned with.

Key Coaching Cues: First and foremost I’d make sure to audit your clients and ensure they can perform a standard Goblet Squat before tossing this into the mix.

Some key points to consider:

  • Differentiating between Active vs. Passive Foot.
  • Can they maintain proper alignment – in that there’s no excessive rib flair throughout the duration of the set. The anterior load of the KB or DB should help offset this.
  • Chest Up.
  • Push knees out (heels stay glued to the floor), squat DOWN not necessarily BACK.
  • Maintain abs, and think about “pulling” into the deep squat position.
  • End result should be elbows inside knees, chest up, natural arch in lower back.

If they hit all the checkmarks above, your client(s) are probably good to go with this variation.

HOWEVER: screening them for ample shoulder flexion is crucial. If they lack sufficient overhead mobility the “press” component of this exercise may be contraindicated.

HOWEVER (PART II): Squat depth will be highly individualized. Some people lack the requisite mobility to squat below parallel. Others, however, lack stability in the form of protective tension, which more or less tells the CNS to put on the emergency breaks. So, what may seem like a mobility restriction is just lack of stability.

It’s important to screen for this and note the difference.

[^^^ There’s more to this screen that I’ve added since writing the post above (I should update it), but this should provide ample insight].

Do you or your client pass the above caveats? Good, you’re good to go.

Grab a kettlebell and start in the racked position. With your free hand make a fist and squeeze like a mofo. This will help create more bodily tension.

Squat down to your “usable” ROM and once there, maintain tension (don’t relax), pause for a 1s count, own the position, and then press the KB up towards the ceiling making sure to follow with your eyes.

Now that I think about it: this is also a great t-spine rotation exercise!

Perform 5-8 repetitions, and repeat the same process on the other side. Alternatively, you could perform this exercise as squat, press, stand back up, squat, press, stand back up, etc.

You get to pick your poison here. Give it a try and let me know what you think

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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  1. Expect to see this in the next CrossFit Games. Except they’ll make things more interesting by having people press a bottoms-up kettlebell…while balancing a running chainsaw on their nose.

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