Back to our regularly scheduled program

At this point, we are all back in the swing of school, and the kids extra – curricular activities are in full swing.  I like to step back and take stock of where I’m at a few times a year, and the beginning of school is a good time to do it.

At the gym over summer, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time working on muscular endurance.  Now that we are back to our regularly scheduled program, we are going back to a strength phase.  

I talk about why we are doing this all the time, and the basic idea is that the stronger you are, the longer you will be able to live independently. Getting up off the toilet is nothing more than the concentric phase of a squat.  Old man time is going to catch up to all of us at some time or another, and I’m just as happy to put up a huge fight.

For my membership, I’d really like to have you guys read this, and give me your thoughts.

Here’s a quote to perk your interest:

Because strength is the most general adaptation you can obtain. Strength is called into action any time you produce force, and the stronger you are the more force you can produce, no matter how you got strong.

Not every force application involves maximum force production, but the stronger you are, the better you’re able to produce force in situations where your strength must be used repeatedly, quickly, slowly, irregularly, or differently, in positions of balance or imbalance, while fresh or fatigued, recovered or sore, distracted or focused, for a few seconds or a few hours or days. This is why baseball players take steroids.

Phil’s interpretation:  If you can squat 1.75X your bodyweight, and Press your bodyweight, then a 95 lb thruster should be just about the easiest movement we do (unless you weight 45 pounds)


Just because I don’t know what I’m talking about doesn’t mean I’m lying . . .

Ok, so I had one of my gym members confront me with the question of “Why do you make us do front squats?”  I gave her the following answer, but on hindsight, I though I could have more eloquently stated it and likely made a more convincing explanation.  After all, as a trainer, I should be able to explain clearly why I prescribe any movement.

The answer that I gave her is that most often, in your daily life, when you are lifting something heavy, it is some combo of a dead lift and a front squat.  Example of helping a friend move, and picking up the couch.  You rarely use the opportunity to load the couch onto the back of your shoulders, you typically carry it in front of you in some form.  I went into the idea that you have to engage your core more, blah blah blah.  She looked at me only mildly accepting my explanation and added but it bruises my collar bones.  To which I responded, that makes the sexy black dress even sexier!

I wanted to take a few minutes to pull some more information on the value of doing front squats that I left out of the explanation to JWM.

  • Flexibility – The front squat when performed properly builds more flexibility in the ankles, wrists, hips, and shoulders.
  • Less compressive stress on the spine
  • Less force on the knees
  • EMG data on quads, erectors, and rectus abdominus are higher in a front squat vs. back squat
  • If performed to full depth, significant EMG activity in the posterior (and we all want to look like J. Lo)
  • Better translation to the acceleration required for the olympic lifts when combined with the back squat.

For me as a coach, I find a particular value in the front squat to teach the upright torso.  The nature of the front squat forces the upright torso and provides kinesthetic feedback through the use of mean old Mr. Gravity at 9.8 m/s/s.  Translation – if your torso goes forward, you will likely drop the bar.  This ultimately translates into better lumbar positioning and allows the numbers on the back squat to improve.

you can learn more about the front squat from these resources: