The Power Squat
Given what ought to be common sense and knowledge (medical approval, etc.) and When executed proprly and safely, all forms of squatting are, most likely, going to be beneficial for an athlete. Each of the squats described, has specific benefits, as well as potential and unwanted consequences. I will do my best to provide the information needed to make sound decisions. As far as I am concerned, an athlete should be using all three types of squatting, but certainly not at the same time. This is where a valuable and knowledgable trainer comes in handy. Choose the right one, because there are a lot of unqualified "trainers" and coaches out there that will serve their egos well before they serve you.
Although there are many things to be considered, there might not be any other method of squatting, when done correctly, that can match the overall benefits of the Power Squat. The Power Squat places the bar lower on the traps and deltoids, which, both subsequently, as well as consequently, changes the angle of the body. This also necessitates a shortenong of the lever. Additionally, the distance from the bar to the power line of the body (in this case it is the hips) becomes shorter, and this is of paramount importance, because it places the higher percentage of the load on larger, stronger muscles, such as the hips, glutes, low back, and other members of the posterior chain. The relatively low placement of the bar also allows the athlete to “sit back in the squat,” which will, provided that all other technical elements have been satisfied, create an optimal knee position. To accomplish this, the hips need to move first in the movement, not the knees. Furthermore and as flexion occurs, the knees need to be continuously pushed out. Remember, the Power Squat is primarily a lower back and posterior chain movement (although the quads are heavily relied upon during the eccentric phase of the lift). In terms of morphology, mechanics, and physics, there will always be "issues" with any athletic movement, and the Power Squat is of no exception. Whenever part of a load is removed from a targeted area, in this case the quads and knees, it must be compensated for by other muscle groups and joints. Here and in part, the musculature of the low back picks up the slack. If you examine the photo above, you will notice a lean. This lean shortens both the lever, as well as the moment arm, and takes some stress from the kness, but that same lean causes an increase in stress to the low back. Not everyone will lean to my extent. This, in large part, will be determined by hip structure. Regardless of the lean angle, you must fight against spinal flexion by keeping your back locked. Remember, the shorter lever allows for greater weight, and the greater the weight, the greater the risk of injury. This is why there is always that diclaimer that says, "There is always an inherent risk...proceed accordingly!" Here are what I consider to be the major pros and cons of the Power Squat.
Engages more muscles than other forms of squatting
Shortens the levers of functionality, and therefore allows for greater weight to be moved. Gains in strength are usually, as well as directly, related to the amount of weight moved
When executed properly, the PS takes much of the stress off of the knee joints
Becuase of the increase in spinal flexion, the PS puts the lower back and spine at a greater risk for injury
So, here are the fundamentals:
The Set Up:
*Step into the rack, and under the bar, positioning it across the posterior delts and mid traps.
*Lock your low back and push your chest out!
*Find and maintain the line of power as you step out of the rack and prepare to engage.
*Begin by looking out...about 8 feet out (or so). This will help to ensure the proper back angle and correct drive when transitioning to the concentric phase.
*Maintain the chest out and locked back posture for the entirety of the lift ( this includes the re-racking of the weight).
*Bend at the hips first, by pushing your butt back.
*Continue to sit back in the squat
*Continuously push the knees out as flexion occurs….do not allow the knees to move inward. If they do and at this point, the weight is too heavy.
*Maintain the line of power throughout the duration of the lift.
*Continue to descend until you have gone slightly below parallel (the point of the hip must be lower than the top of the thigh)
*If you are squatting higher than this, you are, at the very best, failing to maximize your effort, and at the very worst, putting yourself in very dangerous situations. Study after study has concluded that squatting below parallel is much better…and safer…than squats that are above. I will be happy to discuss this, and cite the studies, when we meet
*Transition out of the bottom position by pushing your butt up, not back. However, you must, at all costs, maintain the locked back, chest out posture, and the back angle that you had when you descended. Do not let these change!!!!!
*Continue to stand until you have reached the starting position.