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Why Mobility Matters: Bar Paths and Leverage



No amount of HORIZONTAL force applied to the bar will contribute to the VERTICAL motion of the bar.
 
When it comes to squatting, any deviation of the barbell outside of the vertical line directly above the mid-foot means more work for the lifter.
 
You can't fight physics. Well, I guess you can, but you won't be able to lift nearly as much weight.
 
Want to PR your squat? Take a look at your bar path from the side.
 
Horizontal deviations in bar path off the vertical line directly above of the mid-foot are caused by one of two things:
 
1) Incorrect Technique
 
Some common technique faults that cause bar path deviations are:
  • Not sending the hips back to initiate the squat.
  • Shooting the hips up faster than the chest when coming out of the bottom position causing a "stripper fault.”
2) Lack of Mobility
 
In order to rule out #2, see if you can pass the Back, Front, and Overhead Squat mobility screens.

Back Squat Mobility Screen – Hands Up Wall Squat Test

How to perform the Hands Up Wall Squat Test:

  1. Stand 1 foot-length away from a wall (a shoe's distance away) and set up in your squat stance with your fingertips on the wall in front of you.
  2. Go through the bracing sequence (glutes and abs on). Screw your feet into the ground. Squat down to full depth (hip crease below parallel) by sending your hips back and driving the knees out wide.
  3. Hold for 3 seconds at the bottom before standing. Repeat x5.
 
*If you are unable to squat down without falling over, you fail the test and should not be back squatting. The best way to improve your mobility for this test is to do the same test but stop at your lowest point without falling down. Once you hit that depth, hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this drill 5-10 ten times daily. Your squat depth will improve!

Front Squat Mobility Screen – Elbows Up Wall Squat Test

 
Like the back squat, the front squat has a simple mobility screen.
 
The mobility demands of the front squat are far greater than that of the back squat.
 
How to perform the Elbows Up Wall Squat Test:
  1. Stand a 1/2 foot-length away from a wall (half a shoe's distance away) and set up in your squat stance with your fingers interlocked behind your head and elbows pointing forward.
    Go through the bracing sequence (glutes and abs on). Screw your feet into the ground. Squat down to full depth (hip crease below parallel) by sending your hips back and driving your knees out wide.
  2. Hold for 3 seconds at the bottom before standing. Repeat x5.
*If you are unable to squat down without falling over, you fail the test and should not be front squatting. 

Overhead Squat Mobility Screen – Hands Overhead Wall Squat Test

 
Like the back squat and front squat, the overhead squat has a simple mobility test.
 
When a barbell is overhead, the lifter must hold an extremely upright torso in order to keep the barbell's path over the mid-foot.
 
If mobility in the hips/ankles/t-spine are lacking, the lifter will throw their torso forward, internally rotate the shoulders, and fall into what we call "The Train-Wreck Squat." The Train-Wreck Squat essentially looks like a taco from the profile view where the shoulders are placed far behind the chest in a grossly dangerous position.
 
How to perform the Hands Overhead Wall Squat Test:
  1. Stand a 1-2 inches away from a wall and set up in your squat stance with your arms overhead and hands stacked on top of one another.
  2. Go through the bracing sequence (glutes and abs on). Screw your feet into the ground. Then squat down to full depth (hip crease below parallel) by sending your hips back and driving your knees out wide.
  3. Hold for 3 seconds at the bottom before standing. Repeat x5.
*If you want to improve your mobility so you can pass this test, check out my blog post titled "Fix Your Squat" for several mobility exercises that will help you increase the range of motion in your ankles and hips.
 
I challenge clients and coaches alike to think long-term. Poor positioning only leads to injury.
 
A final thought from our friend Rene Vega,
"Never for a minute allow your standards to retrograde, for its negative impact on your athletes performance will be profound."
 
*These tests are taken from Sean Manseau's By the Numbers book.
 
 
 

Group Class Programming for Monday, November 5th, 2018:

Level Method Group 1 Testing