Get Strong

Squatting Through The Roof

When something is very high or has increased dramatically the idiom "through the roof"  is often used. The number of techniques coaches use to improve an athletes barbell squat, it can be said is -"through the roof"!  To improve the barbell squat a coach may have the athlete; work on technique, different bar positions, work on core strength, upper back strength, adjust an athletes grip, build hip strength, change the type of bar used, change shoes, do pause squats, do box squats, speed squats, increase flexibility, revisit motivation, look at rest intervals, change the number of days per week training occurs, adjust routines and much much more.

The Pendulum Squat Pro allows each athlete regardless of limb length and skill level to quickly, with almost zero coaching, get into a position of what may be deemed 'perfect form'. Having great form through an entire squatting movement increases the strength of the structures that the coach is trying to augment by using many of the aforementioned methods.

If an athlete is weak in the bottom position simply top load the Pendulum Squat Pro machine during the squating movement. If the athlete struggles near the top of the movement bottom load the Pendulum Squat Pro. To improve squatting strength and form simply cross load the machine with barbell plates on the high and low weight sleeves.

Without question training on the Pendulum Squat Pro will make any athletes barbell squat go through the roof with little or no coaching......  A great way to improve technique and Get Strong.

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The Pendulum Squat Pro

Topics: barbell back squat, Skill, Success, Pendulum Squat Pro

Barbell Squat Form

Gabe Harrington has a Masters degree from Michigan State University. Gabe has coached at MSU, the United States Military Academy and most recently was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Colgate University Patriot League Football Champions. Gabe explains, even if you are an avid barbell squatter, the Pendulum Squat Pro is still a great tool to have in your weight room.

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Teaching squatting form with a barbell requires coaching as well as skill progression. Teaching form on the Pendulum Power Squat Pro, because the yoke resting on the athletes shoulders is accommodating, only requires the lifter to grasp the work arms and squat and their form is excellent. 

I purchased a Pendulum Squat Pro for my facility and when the machine arrived my athletes began trying it. I quickly saw, without almost any instruction, athletes who usually struggled with squatting had excellent form on the Squat Pro. The floating yoke was changing the resistance in relationship to the lever system during the movement.  I was delighted with what was occurring and decided that the Power Squat Pro should become part of my squatting progression routine.

The following are my '10 Progressive Steps' that I used to teach the proper form of barbell squatting.

 PROGRESSION #1: FEEL THE CORRECT FORM

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 PROGRESSION #2: STANCE BASICS

•    Begin with feet slightly wider than shoulder width – toes pointed slightly out

•    “Spread the Floor” with your feet: if you were on ice, you would do the splits – this helps to keep your knees from buckling in during the movement

•    Push through the heels, falling forward can put unnecessary strain on your spine – keeping your weight back keeps your center of gravity from falling forward and helps keep your knees behind your toes (more on this later)… try lifting your big toes slightly just before performing the movement 

PROGRESSION #3: BREATHING

•    Always breath into your belly, not your chest – this helps promote internal stability around the spine

•    Breath in at the top – now hold your breath on the way down and in the bottom position for a split second (unless you have high blood pressure)

•    Once upward movement is initiated breath out as you stand up

PROGRESSION #4: WALL SQUAT (BOX)
•    This series will help you learn to sit back rather than down when you squat as well as to keep your knees behind your toes

•    Begin by setting an adjustable platform or low box near a wall – make sure it is sturdy enough to support your bodyweight!

•    Set the platform such that as you sit on it the tops of your thighs are parallel with the floor

•    From the seated position place your toes against the wall and assume your squat stance

•    Take a breath into the belly, Spread the floor, lift your big toes and stand

•    Try to sit back onto the platform without “plopping” down onto it and return to the standing position once again

•    Once you can repeat this 2-3 times in a row without “plopping” down you are ready to move onto the next progression

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PROGRESSION #5: WALL SQUAT (PARTNER)

•    This time begin standing with your toes against the wall in your squat stance

•    Breath into the belly, spread the floor, lift the big toes, push your hips back and maintain a good arch in your spine

•    You will notice that at ¾ of the way down you will have to use your hip flexor muscles to pull you down 

•    This is where it gets tough!  Your partner will have to spot you from behind and keep you from falling backwards – your partner’s job is to push you forward enough so that you can pull yourself down to parallel… you want to get used to your hip flexors working hard here!

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PROGRESSION #6: WALL SQUAT (SOLO)

•    Once you feel comfortable enough, try this without your partner

•    Note that this is the exact form you will use with the bar on your back – you must master this exercise before moving on!

•    You may pick this up right away, or you may have to practice 2 sets of 3 reps on this each day for as long as a couple of weeks to master it – either way, stay with it because it will pay you back down the road!

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PROGRESSION #7: MODIFIED FRONT SQUAT

•    Once you have mastered the wall squat place an empty barbell across your shoulders and extend your arms out straight with your thumbs up to the ceiling and at eye level
•    Now squat like you’ve been practicing against the wall: breath into the belly, spread the floor, lift the toes, push the hips back and maintain a great spinal arch
•    The purpose of the bar here is to give you some feedback as to whether you are falling forward or not – if the bar rolls off your shoulders you are falling forward – check your weight distribution and keep working on it!
•    Once you can do this for a set of 2-3 reps in a row you are ready to back squat!

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PROGRESSION #8: HOLDING THE BAR ON YOUR BACK

•    For the back squat, we want a “low bar position”

•    To achieve this, squeeze your shoulder blades together hard – this will create a natural “shelf” for the bar to sit on... The “shelf” is your trapezius and rear deltoid muscles contracting – the bar will sit here comfortably without feeling like you are rubbing your spine with the bar

•    Grip the bar firmly – experiment with the width of your hands for comfort – try to turn your wrists in… they won’t move very much, but by contracting your wrist muscles your wrists will hurt less from the awkwardness of the position

•    Keep your eyes up and push your head back into the bar (like when you try to make your neck look bigger in your team photo)

•    Note that this may feel uncomfortable at first… your wrists and upper back may not be strong enough initially to support much weight in this fashion, but STICK WITH IT, your upper back will grow thick with muscle from supporting weight in this manner – not to mention this is the most advantageous way to hold the bar (in time your spine will thank you)

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PROGRESSION #9: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

•    At this point, having mastered the previous progressions, the back squat should be a breeze

•    Perform your practice sets with no more than 2 reps at a time with light weight until you get the hang of it (have a partner watch you!) and add weight slowly – in time you will have a healthy and impressive physique from all of your hard work!   

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Remember:
Breath into the belly
Spread the floor
Lift the toes
Head back
Great arch
Drive through the heels... and.... Get Strong

PROGRESSION #10: RECHECK YOUR FORM

Gabe Harrington Squat Pro

Topics: barbell back squat, squat progression, Strength Training, Pendulum Rack System, Skill, Pendulum Squat Pro, Squat form