You don't know squat ... and some other things

There are levels to this movement thing and you need certain skills to succeed at certain tasks. Sticking to the whole More capable human thing (and we are going to for the foreseeable future). You need a foundation and then you need to build on that foundation. There are certain things that you need to be able to do in order to do other things. There are prerequisites that need to be in place for you to develop movements and skills.

Yes you can get by without some prerequisites. Humans are amazingly adaptable and the body will do whatever it can, to do what the mind conceives. this can be things that are unhealthy in the long term because you don’t have the correct foundational skills. There are tons of athletes performing at the highest level and not necessarily doing it in the most optimal way because they don’t have all the foundations in place. Most of us don’t have all the foundations in place, we lost them. What has to happen now is that we must work across multiple levels developing many facets of multiple skills at the same time.

So let’s break it down

Patterns are:

1.       Squat

2.       Press

3.       Pull

4.       Hinge

5.       Carry

6.       Transition

Progression in these patterns follow:  Pattern> Grind> Symmetry> Explode > Ballistic > Chaos

These patterns and progression are based Dan Johns’ work, a brilliant coach and writer of all things training and strength. I can’t think of a better way to structure movement. This is just my take on that and how I apply it with some additions and modifications.

Patterning is the simplest version of the pattern, the foundation of the movement. Grind is building strength in the movement. Symmetry is creating balance in the movement. Explode is generating force with speed in the pattern. Ballistic is generating force explosively in a cyclic way (repetitive movements). Chaos is dealing with going out of pattern, dealing with a non-textbook squat in this case. These can follow a progression like it’s laid out above, but in reality they overlap and run at the same time. We are constantly working on all areas.

It starts with patterns…

Do you have patterns, are you capable of moving well through these patterns?

If you have the patterns can you load it? Can you handle/control going out of pattern? Chaos is part of life and we need to be able to handle chaos. Some of us more than others but this is a necessary part of movement and life. To recap so far:

1.       Have good patterns

2.       Get strong in patterns and build work capacity

3.       Handle the chaos of getting out of pattern

You don’t know squat

To quote Gray Cook ‘’ a squat is a movement pattern first, an exercise second’’ and it is one of the exercises that people screw up the most. Then there’s the whole below parallel and knees over the toes debate that still lingers on. My stance on it simple, it depends. It depends on your mobility, if your limited by injury, the reason why you are using a squat as an exercise, your training history and others, but to simplify everything all normal injury free humans should be able to comfortably sit in a full squat. Today we look at the squat as a pattern.

The squat is a rest position. You should be able to comfortably sit in a squat. A squat is a display of good ankle, knee and hip mobility. It should be at least. In most developing or 3rd world countries you still see people sitting in a squat as a resting position or in a social setting. Being able to do an overhead squat is a great picture of this and added shoulder and thoracic mobility. So, do you have this? If not how do you get this?

Patterning movements:

Bodyweight squat

Goblet squat

Doorknob squat

Overhead squat

Note my depth isn't the same on the overhead squat vs the goblet squat because it is limited by my thoracic mobility... shows me my weakness, now i can work on it.

Note my depth isn't the same on the overhead squat vs the goblet squat because it is limited by my thoracic mobility... shows me my weakness, now i can work on it.

What is a good squat?

We start life with a perfect squat and then lose it as we go along

We start life with a perfect squat and then lose it as we go along

Can you do a bodyweight squat? Yes, do a goblet squat. No? Do a goblet squat or a door knob squat. The added weight with the goblet squat will either correct your mistake or highlight you weakness. If that is the case, the doorknob squat gives you some added stability to help you get into a squat. The overhead squat is a good assessment of your mobility and can also serve as a developer of ability and stability.

Resources to use and actions to take

·         Get into a squat position at least once a day.

·         Play around in the squat position

Do goblet squats, bodyweight squats or overhead squats in your training sessions and warm ups. Below are some videos of things you can play with to build the squat pattern.

Kelly starrett of MobilityWOD has a 10min squat test that you can do from time to time.

Ido portal has a squat routine to open up your squat and develop your mobility in the squat. It also touches on the chaos element of things, but more on that later.

Here is Dan John breaking down the doorknob squat


·         Develop your squat pattern

·         Maintain your squat pattern

Next time we will talk about loading your squat pattern…