Everyone should be squatting. Not everyone should be married to a specific variation.
Do I have to do back squats to be a better rower? Absolutely not.
Everyone one should be squatting. Not everyone should be married to a specific variation.
Here’s an example from this morning. Same load, different variations, and a VERY, different look & feel. He actually mentioned the Med-ball squat felt much BETTER & HARDER. I can promise he’ll benefit more from the MB version. It’s not perfect, but it’s currently his best squat.
I typically like some sort of front loaded squat for rowers. It allows them to get into a better position without extra coaching. It’s also more similar to the position we’re after in the stroke. Oh, and it’s less load on the spine, more load on the core, that's a win-win.
Find the squat that looks good on you.
It’s kind of like shopping for something that makes you look and feel your best.
One of the reasons certain squats are good for some, and not for others, is based on our hip anatomy. Believe it or not, we all have different hip architecture! Some people are better at squatting narrow, while others prefer a wide stance or somewhere in between. The same rings true for the angle of our feet. No, our feet don't need to be pointed perfectly straight ahead. To read more on this check out Dr. Rusin's article.
Another reason for variations in the squat are mobility limitations. Limitations at the ankle, hip, and upper-body can change the mechanics of a squat. Work on your ankle mobility here. Typically, people with mobility limitations perform squats better with an anterior load (weight in the front). When a load is held in front of your body it helps you counter balance and shift your weight backwards. Another option here are heel lifts (slide 2.5-5 pound plates underneath their heels).
Sometimes athletes can have fantastic mobility but still struggle to squat with good form. This may be a motor control limitation. Typically these athletes do best with anterior loaded squats as well. This time it's for a different reason. When a weight is held in front of you it naturally encourages your core to engage. When the core engages the hips can move more freely. Thus, we see improvements in squat form.
Here are some squat variations that you can experiment with.
Pick the one that encourages your best form and feels the best.
Blake Gourley holds a Masters of Science in Sports Performance Training and has over 10 years of experience working with rowers. Read more