Babies don’t even think about squatting. They just do it.
While they’re busy pulling their feet behind their heads, we’re trying not to shit ourselves squatting to 90 degrees.
Add a barbell to the mix, and our weaknesses become that much more apparent.
Whether it’s a lack of coaching or proper warm-up, there are contributing factors that lead to some of the god-awful squats you see in the gym.
- Rounded upper back. If you think squatting with a bar is only for your legs, you probably suck at squatting. Rounded posture with no engagement in the upper back leads to less than impressive results, if not potential injury.
- Hip shift. No one is built symmetrically; we all have some degree of imbalances. But you want to minimize those imbalances as much as possible when performing loaded bilateral movements like squats. A common tendency is to shift to your dominant side during squats.
- Valgus collapse. Knee cave. This is never good. Buckling your knees together won’t increase your squat, but it will increase your risk of injury.
- Butt wink. Weak glutes and a lack of hip mobility can lead to butt winking (posterior pelvic tilt) at the bottom of your squat. Not good, particularly for your spine.
X-BANDED TEARAWAY SQUATS
While there’s no such thing as a magic pill, this drill comes pretty damn close.
X-banded tearaway squats tackle all of the previously listed issues in one movement, reinforcing optimal positioning and muscle recruitment during squats.
How to do it:
- Stand inside a resistance band with the bottom of the band around knee-height.
- Criss-cross the band in front of your body to make an “x” and grab both ends.
- Squat to depth and tear the band apart with your arms straight as you squat down.
- Maintain an upright torso throughout your set.
- You can pause at the bottom of each rep to get comfortable in your squat depth.
Why you should do it:
- Reinforces glute med activation. By “spreading the floor apart” as you squat down, you’re engaging your glutes more effectively.
- Reinforces external hip rotation. Your hips need to go through a certain degree of flexion and external rotation when squatting to depth.
- Reinforces upper back engagement. This is probably the most challenging aspect of the drill for many (myself included). Pulling the band apart reinforces slight extension in the thoracic spine while engaging all of the small, neglected muscles in the upper back.
- Use as part of your warm-up before loaded squats
- 8-10 reps
- 2-4 sets