Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Too Fat to Squat

YOU.

MUST.

SQUAT.

You'll hear that repeated as a mantra in the weight training world. If you aren't squatting - usually barbell back squatting - you aren't training.

But what do you do when you, or your clients, are just physically unable to squat?

This question came up on the Performance Menu forums in an eponymously titled forum post.

I added my 2 cents there, and I'll quote it here:

That's how we (at the gym I work at) handle fat loss clients and sedentary folks, nevermind people with injuries that restrict their ROM. Generally we have them squat to a box, and lower the box until we find the point at which they lose their neutral spine. Often for heavier folks, the spine is fine but the body/legs gets in the way. In that case, they just keep working on a lower ROM, inch by inch, session by session.

. . .

I [use goblet squats] with light kettlebells - getting the client's hands in the right position seems to be easier than with the smaller dumbbells. We also progress pretty quickly to zercher sandbag squats, using some very light sandbags (maybe 10-20 pounds). The arm positioning and back position is easy to coach - "Don't lean over and drop the bag!" and it helps get the person to a lightly loaded squat.

Basically squatting is natural and healthy, but since I see a lot of injured/injury rehab clients and fat loss clients - often with both issues - we have to take it slowly and work them along.


If you don't have physical restrictions, then I agree with the mantra. Get squatting. The bang-for-your-buck is amazing. But if you do, safety dictates a modified squat pattern . . . until you are strong enough to do the regular version. Getting back to the ability to squat down is a great goal for a beginning lifter.

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