Recently, I posted a video on my Instagram page about the double leg squat progressions that I use for assessing the body weight squat movement and by adding an overload for future progressions. Once an individual masters the bodyweight squat movement, one progresses to the next movement and so on (example: bodyweight squat to goblet squat to front squat to back squat to overhead squat) You can check out the video HERE. In this blog, I am going to do a simple breakdown of each movement and my opinion about hand/bar positions.
The squat movement is a widely accepted exercise used to strengthen the thigh musculature. However, a poorly performed squat movement may result in altered lower extremity alignment such as knee valgus which may expose the lower extremity joints to excessive torques (Slater & Hart, 2017). Properly executing the squat movement is not only import to prevent acute excessive torques, but also to prevent chronic excessive torques that may hinder performance and increase the likelihood of developing an injury in the long-term. Listed below (in order) are the squat progression movements that I use:
1) Bodyweight Squat
Start with the feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Point the toes out slightly aiming for 11 and 1 o’clock when visualizing a clock. Next, corkscrew your feet into the ground by externally rotating the knee. Drive your hips back as you squat down and raise the arms to shoulder level as you get deeper into the squat. I prefer to raise the arms on the downward phase of the bodyweight squat to prevent an excessive forward torso lean.
2) Goblet Squat
The goblet squat is similar to the bodyweight squat except for the addition of the front load. However, you must keep the weight close to the body throughout the full range of motion.
3) Front Squat
The front squat is performed with the barbell placed on the front part of the shoulder. There are two common variations with arm placement on the front squat: 1) elbows up with hands on the bar or 2) arms crossed over the bar. I prefer option #1 over option #2 for a couple of reasons, but one can gain more shoulder flexibility while performing option #1. However, if one has a wrist injury option #2 would be ok to perform.
4) Back Squat
The back squat is performed with the barbell placed on the posterior region of your shoulder. Similar to the front squat, there are two common types of bar placements in the back squat movement: 1) high bar and 2) low bar position. The high bar position is commonly used by Olympic Weightlifters. However, the low bar position is commonly used with Powerlifters. Personally, I use the high bar position most of the time. I have noticed that the high bar position allows more of an upright position and prevents a forward torso lean. An excessive forward torso lean has been associated with low back pain. However, I do not disregard the low bar position.
5) Overhead Squat
The overhead squat is performed with the barbell above your head. Arms are fully extended with the barbell over the head throughout the full range of motion. Additionally, this difficult movement for some is implemented in many movement screens and this movement is able to assess and analyze bilateral mobility of the hips, knees, ankles, shoulders and thoracic spine (Atkins, Hesketh, & Sinclair, 2016; Butler, Plisky, Southern’s, Scoma, & Kiesel, 2010; Reiman & Mankse, 2009).
In conclusion, this post is just a brief overview of the squat progressions I use when progressing an athlete or client with a squat. Anatomically, everyone is different and it is important to be adaptive to change a position or regress a movement when an athlete or client is struggling. If you have any questions related to squats, I will be happy to provide advice. Comment below or send me a message in the contact tab.
Atkins, S., Hesketh, C., & Sinclair, J. (2016). The presence of bilateral imbalance of the lower limbs in elite youth soccer players of different ages. J Strength Cond Res, 30(4), 1007-1013.
Butler, R.J., Plisky, P.J., Southers, C., Scoma, C., & Kiesel, K.B. (2010) Biomechanical analysis of the different classifications of the Functional Movement Screen deep squat test. Sports Biomech, 9, 270-279
Reiman, M.P., & Mankse, R. (2009). Functional testing in human performance. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 108-109.