Exercises You Should Be Doing: HBT Front Squat March

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In my career as a strength coach I’ve worked with numerous athletes and non-athletes alike dealing with back pain. And while much of the time my initial “go to” exercises are things like the McGill curl-up, birddogs, deadbugs, and various planks I also recognize that, after awhile, some people would rather wash their face with broken glass than perform another rep of any of those exercises.


Curl-ups, birddogs, and planks work. There’s no denying that. Coaching people up on those three movements alone and having them perform them on a consistent basis will clean up a lot of aberrant movement reduce pain in a symptomatic back.

However, it’s just, you know, they get boring after a while. As much as I’m a fan of those movements (and could care less how bored someone gets if it’s what they need to be doing to get better), part of my job as a coach is to help people not feel like a patient and to find other means to elicit a training effect.

I mean, raise your hand if this sounds familiar:

Athlete/Client: “Ready to train coach. What are we doing today?”

Coach: “You’re in for a treat. We’re getting after it with birddogs today. Holla!”



Like I said, it’s not to bemoan the birddog – it’s lovely exercise – but it’s not to say we can’t toss in alternative exercises that are just as conducive to working through low back pain AND more palatable for those looking to actually train.

HBT Front Squat March


Who Did I Steal It From? – a combination of Dr. Joel Seedman and MA based strength coach, Ryan Wood.

What Does It Do? – I’ve discussed the concept of HBT before in THIS article, but to reiterate:

“HBT = Hanging Band Training.

It’s exactly what is sounds like. You take some bands, hang some stuff off them, and do stuff. Because, science.

While at first glance it comes across as a bit gimmicky, HBT training does have a fair amount of efficacy. As Dr. Seedman explains in the article linked to above, the oscillatory characteristics of this brand of training provides a unique training stimulus that challenges stabilization, increases core demand, helps “excite” the CNS, and also has a bit of carryover to muscle gain due to the increase in time under tension.”

Germane to this exercise, the oscillatory effect of the kettlebells (or plates if you don’t have access to KBs) works wonders with regards to challenging the core musculature to stabilize and in helping to build a more resilient back.

The exercise itself can work in one of two ways:

1) If you have the space to do so, you can have someone unload a barbell from a rack and have him of her walk a specific distance.

2) Or, if you’re like me, and have a smaller studio, you can just as effectively have someone stand in place and march it out, like my client Dima is doing in the video above. Like a boss.

Key Coaching Cues: This is a fairly intuitive exercise. The KBs hanging from the bands is going to jostle the individual every which way if they’re too lazy and not CONTROLLING the barbell. The objective is to resist the movement of the KBs.

I like to tell my clients to “keep the KBs quiet.”

Some other things you want to be on the lookout for is too much leaning back and/or any excessive lateral flexion (side bending). The idea is to “stay tall” as one alternates back and forth from foot to foot.

You can either shoot for a specific time (say, 30-40seconds) or a specific number of steps. 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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