Friday, May 20, 2011

Back Or Back To Front

Back or Back to Front

I have been asked the question by my friends and people at gym what would be an alternative to the back squat apart from doing it on the Smith machine. Most of these people had at some point had lower back pain either from their biomechanics or from the technique they were using. I came across an interesting topic by mike Boyle that gives an alternative to the back squat. I myself suffer from this during the back squat and I think that the front squat could be a great alternative.
There are quite a few benefits of using this alternative. It keeps the torso upright, forces you to use a lighter weight, and stresses the knee extensors more, which allows for the next session to include hip dominant exercises, and you can therefore train legs on consecutive days. If wrist flexibility is a problem, then use straps attached to the bar and grip those with the wrists. If you find that you have a problem with range of motion at your ankle you can try this technique to loosen them up. Stand facing a wall with your feet about  10cm away, bend your knees slowly towards the wall until they touch without your feet leaving the ground, extend the distance gradually and repeat 5-10 times. Another way is to just raise the heels with a platform slightly
Step 1. Start this technique by learning the hands free body weight front squat first. This is done be extending the arms parallel to the ground and using the shoulders to bear the weight. The focus here is to use the shoulders, and to activate the glutes, this can be enhanced be placing a theraband around the knees during the motion which forces you to use them. Step 2 focuses on using the clean grip in the front squat. This is usefull as from here it is easier to execute a proper clean which can be part of your workout. Also from here you can perform the clean catch, push jerk and push press.
If you are like me and tend to rotate your pelvis backwards “but tucking under” towards the end of your squat, it is likely that the hamstrings are passed their full flexibility and are now beginning to pull on the pelvis. This definitely is a sign that hamstring flexibility needs to be improved as loading the spine in this tucked under position is putting unnecessary strain on it. We have covered some of the power lofting techniques in the previous blogs. Remember that whenever you are stressing the spine with a load to use good technique and keep the back straight with a natural arch. Inhale deeply at the start of the squat to help stabilize the torso, and as you begin the ascent, exhale slowly through the motion.
Hope this gives you a good alternative to the normal back squats. This should also help with preventing your lower back pain from getting worse.

Reference: Boyle Michael, Designing Strength Training Programmes and Facilities
Done by: Jono Hall

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