Tuesday WAR Strength & Conditioning

"Path of Fire"

WAR Strength & Conditioning WorkoutPerform 21,15,9 reps for time of:KB Swings (70,55)Box Jumps (24 inch) +Rest 5 minutesPerform 21,15,9 reps for time of:Ring DipsKnees2Elbows (Advanced toes2bar) +Rest 5 minutesPerform 21,15,9 reps for time of:Push UpsAir Squats

Make sure you read the below article - it's very interesting.  A lot of your squats are starting to look really good, but there's definitely some things that can be fixed.  I like how in this article they describe the "Active Hip" in comparison to the "Active Shoulder".  I never really thought about the important role the active hip plays in the squat; active hip meaning pushing your Knees out and locking your lower back into extension.  That warm up squat that I have all of you do where we sit in the bottom of the squat and try to push our glutes over our heals (forcing our knees out) is a perfect example of an active hip.  I can't tell you how much that particular stretch has helped my squat (no more butt winking).  Read the article and try to visualize how your squat is, and where you can improve.

Active Hip 2.0: The Directors’ Cut

by Mark Rippetoe and Stef Bradford

When we squat, the standard range of motion criterion for the exercise is “below parallel”, defined as the hip joint – identified at the apex of the hip angle, the “corner” in your shorts over the hip – as it drops below the knee, identified as the top of the patella. Most people that have trouble with the squat are having trouble getting good depth while keeping their low back from rounding. Pretty much anybody can get deep if they allow the lumbar spine to relax into flexion. But we have found that almost every single human being on this planet can squat below parallel with pretty good lumbar extension if their stance is correct and if they simply shove their knees out to the sides as they squat. This is because a type of impingement occurs at the bottom of the squat that is relieved by shoving out the knees, allowing for a below-parallel squat with this simple skeletal position adjustment. At the same time a drastic improvement occurs in the way the hips work.

Stef, who is much smarter than I am, occasionally walks up to me and says things that cannot be ignored. Not that I would ever want to, and not because she says them in a clear, strong voice, but because they make such perfect sense that you have to say to yourself, “Why is it that she said this before I did? Am I that dull? This is so damned obvious that I must now begin to question my ability to reason and observe. Maybe I’m drinking too much, or not sleeping enough, or ...” So when she walked up to me one day and made the observation that, “You know that the femur impinges on the hip pointer at the bottom of the squat if the knees aren’t out of the way in the same way that the acromion process of the scapula impinges on the humerus in the press if the traps aren’t shrugged, don’t you?”, like I was a moron. I had to agree.

Most people think that the main problem with squat depth is hamstring extensibility, more commonly referred to as “flexibility” – the ability of the hamstrings to lengthen as the depth of the squat increases. This is not really necessary, and loose, elastic hamstrings are not the key to a deep squat. Optimal skeletal mechanics is.

If you stand with your heels at shoulder-width apart and point your toes out at about 30 degrees, squat down, and keep your thighs parallel to your feet, then as your hip angle closes and your thighs approach your torso, your femurs will track to a position that is outside of the ASIS – the anterior superior iliac spine – the hip pointer that you feel right below your waistline. But if you point your toes straight forward and let your knees follow your toes, or even if you point your toes out but still let your knees cave in toward the middle when you squat, then as you squat down your femur will approach the ASIS as you approach the bottom. So as your thighs crowd your belly, they tend to trap any soft-tissue structures that may be in the area between the thigh and the hip pointer. If you have a big gut or big thighs, or a lot of clothes on, this will keep you from obtaining a below-parallel squat.

Squat depth is a function of hip angle, the angle formed between the generalized plane of the torso and the femur. If you try to continue to drop down to get better depth with no adjustment in the position of your femurs, it will happen at the expense of a rounded lower back, since the hip angle cannot become more acute if the femur is impinged. If the pelvis – which is supposed to be locked into the lordotic curve with the lumbar vertebrae, held rigid by the erector spinae muscles – can’t tilt forward to maintain this position because it rams into an obstruction formed by the impinged femur, the only way to keep going deeper is to round the low back into lumbar flexion. The obstruction occurs before the bones actually touch, of course, since the hip flexor origins lie in between. Everybody, big belly or not, will experience this phenomenon to one degree or another, and everybody that cannot get below parallel with an arched low back has this problem. If you’re having depth problems, shoving the knees out fixes it so often that it is waste of time to do anything else first.