Have you thought you needed to stay in a low squat position for extended periods?
Have you been told it’s the best solution to improve your squat depth and lower body flexibility?
It’s easy to think this when you see the various #squatchallenges on social media or when you see someone you want to emulate just hanging out in a deep squat position like it’s no big deal. But instead of fixating on sitting in a static squat for longer durations, we can achieve better results and overall lower body resilience by exploring various dynamic movements in and out of this fundamental position.
Build Your Capability – Not Just Your Squat
For most of us, the goal isn’t to become squatting masters but to enhance our everyday movements.
It’s about the ability to effortlessly rise from the floor, kneel, stoop, and bend without fear of injury or discomfort. So, let’s challenge the conventional wisdom and embrace a more functional approach to lower body health and fitness.
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Regardless of whether you can touch your behind to the ground in a squat, the key is to introduce variety and fluidity into your movement patterns. Rather than working on a static position for ever longer periods, we should take advantage of the versatility of the human body and the multitude of ways we can transition into and out of a squatting position.
By incorporating movement and locomotion into our squat training, we can cultivate greater functional fitness that extends beyond the gym walls.
Let’s break free from a restrictive routine and embrace a more dynamic and purposeful approach to achieve optimal lower body resilience and capability.
Missing The Forest For The Trees
The obsession with achieving a picture-perfect squat has led many fitness enthusiasts down a path of frustration and self-doubt. The image of an ideal deep squat, with feet flat on the floor, an upright upper body, and a straight back, has been romanticized as an exemplar of human capability—a “natural state of man” to be achieved by all. This arbitrary standard sets the stage for comparison and self-criticism, as we witness athletic individuals performing flawless squats with ease envying their seemingly natural grace.
So immediately people want to emulate it and spend a lot of energy and anxiety over how to get their ankles/knee/hips/back as perfect as possible to make that magic squat happen.
Or it’s the opposite and people rail against it, saying that some people’s anatomy and structure precludes it or their prior and current injuries make it impossible and they shouldn’t ever try to squat or kneel down anything close to it.
Once again, extremes will be the death of a civilized society…
Better capability and resilience in our lower body is the goal, so it’s crucial to shift our mindset from chasing a specific squat depth towards a more practical approach. Instead of feeling the need to achieve the deepest squat possible, let’s redirect our focus towards the more useful goals of moving with less effort and reduced discomfort during everyday activities that require squatting and kneeling.
By reframing our goals in this way, fitness becomes more meaningful, we liberate ourselves from the pressure to fit into a predetermined mold. We can now focus on what our bodies can currently do and work towards incremental improvements.
Progression becomes a journey of self-discovery and growth, rather than an endless pursuit of an unattainable ideal.
Squat Or Not?
It’s a bit of like the chicken or egg paradox – which came first? – If you can already squat well you can probably already sit there easily when you want to. But again it’s not necessarily that you have to do this to squat well. It’s kind of like confusing effect with cause.
While holding a deep squat for prolonged periods may seem like a useful practice, it’s not the only path to achieving improved capabilities. Instead, we can adopt a more dynamic and fluid approach to our training, emphasizing movement rather than fixation. What’s the secret then?
It’s as simple as moving.
The secret to enhanced squat mobility and lower body capability lies in the simplicity of movement itself. By introducing a diverse range of movements, transitions, and locomotion patterns, we engage various muscle groups and joints, gradually building our functional capacity. By letting go of the need to meet specific squat depth expectations, we empower ourselves to explore our bodies’ full potential.
Squat depth is just one aspect of lower body mobility and capability. Let go of the arbitrary standards and embrace a mindset focused on functional fitness. Emphasize movement and dynamic training to liberate yourself from unnecessary anxiety and limitations.
Remember, the goal is not to achieve the deepest squat possible but to move with ease, comfort, and safety in all your daily activities.
Specific Work Vs. Whole Body Integration
Fitness and health care professionals often find themselves eager to assist clients and patients on their journey towards their goals. In our attempt to be thorough and inclusive, we tend to present a wide array of options and variables for improvement. Take the example of squatting; there are numerous factors to consider—ankle mobility, knee mobility, hip mobility, core stability, and various stretches and strengthening exercises—that can all play a role in enhancing the ability to squat with ease and less strain.
I’ve done it myself! Particularly because of my background in physical therapy, I’ve been conditioned to conduct individual assessments, design personalized plans, and provide ongoing support for the person in front of me. This approach is effective and beneficial for targeted progress, but it poses challenges when attempting to deliver information to a broader audience through articles or blog posts.
The dilemma arises when the comprehensive advice encompasses every possible variation and need. It’s great as a reference and resource, but I’m sure you can see the trouble here is applying to everyone reading an article and not being able to follow up with every single person afterwards. It’s not possible, and frankly I wouldn’t want to even do a fraction of it! Sorry, not sorry.
As a result, the nuances between isolated work and whole-body integration can sometimes get lost in translation. Our guidance might be interpreted as an either-or situation, where individuals feel compelled to choose between focusing solely on isolated exercises or embracing full-body movement.
It’s Not Either-Or It’s Both-And
This is an all-or-nothing mindset. Let’s get away from that, and see if we can take from this what would apply best to you.
In this case, we can delve into the principles of dynamic mobility and explore the power of locomotion as a means to improve not only the squat but also the diverse ways we get up and down off the floor. Dynamic mobility work and locomotion offer a holistic approach that integrates various muscle groups and functional movements, facilitating improved overall lower body capability.
So, if you’ve already been working diligently on the isolated specifics of improving your squat, how about shifting to the other side of the balance and work on dynamic movement with the squat as a transitionary position not the objective.
Enter Dynamic Mobility and Locomotion
Dynamic mobility exercises are a powerful tool for improving mobility in functional tasks, including squatting and kneeling. Unlike static stretches or isolated strength training, dynamic mobility exercises take a holistic approach. Intention-based movement, i.e, “Hop over there! Chase that guy!” – is one of the fundamental principles for improved motor skill learning and automatically creates a comprehensive and effective training experience. Not only does this approach lead to better results, but it also makes the process of improving mobility more enjoyable and sustainable.
Efficient and Capable Mobility
We want to engage multiple muscle groups and joints simultaneously, replicating real-life movement patterns. This approach enhances mobility in the specific task at hand, such as squatting or kneeling, and also improves overall movement proficiency. When you take the “bodybuilding” tactic of isolating each muscle one at a time, you will get those muscles stronger but eventually you’ll need to learn how to use those muscles together.
In contrast, whole body movements, like locomotions, our body learns to coordinate and execute movements more efficiently, leading to increased functional mobility in day-to-day activities.
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Practical Purpose and Functional Intention
We want our movement to be purposeful and intentional. By focusing on the intention behind each movement, we activate the mind-body connection, improving proprioception and spatial awareness. This intention-based approach enhances our ability to retain movement skills and information, ensuring that the improvements we make during training are transferred effectively to functional tasks like squatting and kneeling.
External cueing involves providing cues or instructions from an external source to guide movement. This powerful technique has been shown to enhance movement performance and efficiency. utilize external cues to help participants optimize their form and mechanics. By providing cues, such as visual, verbal, or tactile prompts, individuals can better align their body, maintain proper posture, and execute movements more effectively. These cues not only lead to better performance during exercise but also carry over into functional tasks, improving mobility and reducing the risk of injury.
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Variety and Fun Are Not Bad Words
Let’s face it; repetitive and monotonous workouts can quickly become dull and uninspiring. However, locomotion and crawling exercises are anything but boring! The varied and dynamic nature of these exercises adds an element of excitement and playfulness to training sessions. As we explore different movement patterns and challenge our bodies in new ways, we foster a sense of joy and enthusiasm that keeps us motivated to continue our mobility journey.
Incorporating dynamic mobility exercises into your fitness routine offers a multifaceted approach to enhancing mobility and functional capabilities. By engaging multiple muscle groups, honing motor control, embracing intention-based movement, and leveraging external cueing, you can experience noticeable improvements in squatting, kneeling, and various other daily activities. Moreover, the enjoyable and engaging nature ensures that you’ll look forward to each training session, making your mobility journey a rewarding and sustainable one.
Build A Capable and Resilient Body
Our Elements program encompasses full body movement patterns to improve confidence in your ability to move smoothly and with control through any range of motion.