Author: Scott Smith
Why it made the list (Why you should do them):
A solid lifting regimen just wouldn’t be complete without some variation of the squat. People would probably complain a lot less about “Leg Day” though if they didn’t do them. That’s because squats are HARD! While you can regress this movement so that it is easier to perform correctly while learning, the squat comes in at number one on my list because the intensity can be scaled higher than any other movement we know.
This powerful compound movement utilizes the large muscle groups of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Squats also require flexibility of the spine, hips, knee, ankle, and even shoulder. What makes this exercise even more effective is the variety of ways you can load your body while doing them (front, back, overhead, single leg, on a BOSU, etc.). These variations in addition to the magnitude or weight of the load make for an incredible opportunity to integrate the core muscles of your abdominals, hips, and back. Hello central nervous system overload. Hello results.
How to do them properly:
– NOTE: The following description is for the “high” back squat.
– Clear the squat cage area of any clutter and place the safety bars at an appropriate height (slightly below the lowest point the barbell will travel during your squat). A spotter may be advised.
– Step underneath the barbell and place it across the top of the scapula (upper traps but below that bony process in your neck). Grip the barbell just outside the shoulders and draw your elbows slightly back to create a shelf for the bar to lie on.
– Squeeze your shoulder blades together firmly and lift your chest. Draw in your abdominals and bring the bar up off the rack. Step back slowly into the center of the cage. Inhale while keeping your abs tight and begin to descend by sitting your hips back and pushing your knees outward as they flex. (Pretend like you are sitting into a chair behind you while also trying to spread the floor apart with your feet).
– Sit into a depth where your upper leg is parallel to the floor. Keep your heels down, and knees from flying past the front of your toes. Your upper body should be parallel to the angle of your lower leg (so just slightly forward).
– Breath out forcefully as you drive your heels through the floor, extending your hips back underneath your shoulders, keeping your chest up and out the entire time. Squeeze your glutes all the way to the standing position.
So let’s review…
I’ve picked these 10 lifts because of their proven efficiency and effectiveness at forcing the body to adapt and change for the better! Some of the variations may be a bit more advanced than you are currently ready to perform, but if you continue to follow this site, I can promise you that regressions will be made available for your learning. But that does not mean you shouldn’t aspire to be able to do these 10 exercises at some point!
If you are/have been a client of mine you no doubtably know some variation of these movements because they are a true staple of my programs. I hope they serve you as well as they have served me!
Scott Smith, CSCS
Click on the exercise to watch the video!