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How to Squat – Tip #1 – Elbows Down / Chest Up

How to Squat Training Series

When you start looking at incorporating squats into your workout or into the programs for your athletes, you’ll quickly find that squats, like most compound movements, can be broken down into smaller “pieces”.  In fact, that is exactly how you need to teach all lifts; especially compound lifts (those involving multiple muscle groups across multiple kinetic segments).

Progressively linking these individually “perfected segments” will allow you to not get overwhelmed. But rather easily move from segment to segment until the full execution of the lift is performed.

In this first installment of “How to Squat” we will talk about the position of the elbows.

TIp #1 – Elbows Down / Chest Up

After you unrack the bar and before you even attempt to move into the squat, you must take care of your elbows and chest.   You must drive the elbows down.  Drive them down until they are facing the ground.  As you drive the elbows down, you’ll notice something else; your chest rises.  This is a good thing.  In fact, you need to accentuate this thoracic extension.

Driving the elbows down will help you engage the lats for more stability and tension.  The lats are an important part of the “core.” This, along with pulling your chest up, will keep your head up when you are in the bottom (hole) of the squat.

Because what will happen when your elbows drift up and back?

Your torso will fall forward and the hips will rise too early when you are drive upward.  You see this with athletes who don’t have good torso strength or immobile ankles, hips and upper back.  This might be ok when the weights are light, but will put a lot of stress on the lower back when the weights get heavier.

Remember “perfect practice makes perfect”, so keep drilling form.

Here is a quick and simple video showing you how letting your elbows drift backward will push you forward in the hole when you squat.

By on December 13th, 2010


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