151209 – Squat Depth and Butt-Wink

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It’s fashionable nowadays to bash a lifter for loading too much weight and then doing quarter-squats.  I’ve always operated under the tenet of “If your body will go there, then go there.”… meaning that if your body will move into a particular position, you should train your body in that position.  So when it comes to squatting(BS,FS, OHS, Wallballs, Thrusters, etc), my philosophy is to go to rock-bottom, take advantage of the stretch-reflex, and bounce out… always.  Some (orthopods, doctors, and even trainers) still make the argument that deep-squatting is bad for your knees, but seriously I wish we could finally get over that one.  When done correctly, the majority of the load in the hole is on the hips, not the knees.  In other words, the final few inches of a deep-squat is mainly a hip-driven motion.  Besides that, squatting to full depth acts as a sort of governor for safety for inexperienced lifters.  If a weight is too heavy to go to rock-bottom, it’s too heavy to have on your back.

But then there’s the “Butt-Wink”… the point in a deep squat where the lifter’s hips rotate under their body and therefore losing tension in their lumbar spine.  In reality everyone has a butt-wink to some degree… what you want to learn is do you have an “ok butt-wink” or a “not ok butt-wink”.  The difference lies in the degree which your lumbar losses tension.  Some lifters hyperextend their backs to try and offset this loss at the bottom… sometimes it works, sometimes not.  A good squatter’s lumbar will go from extension to neutral at the bottom of a deep squat (see pic)… this is ok.  A neutral spine is strong.  What we don’t want to see is the lumbar going from extension to flexion… a flexed spine under load is dangerous.  A drastic butt-wink… aka lumbar flexion is typically a sign of hip flexibility issues… see Ana for the fix.

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This lumbar position is so important in everything we do at CFV.  After tweaking my back 3 years ago picking up a 3 lb plastic chair of all things, I started making a conscious effort to overdo my lumbar position/tension on everything from picking up a PVC pipe to deadlifting 450 lb.  So while I advocate hitting rock-bottom (chest to quads, butt to calves) in your squats, you have to use some horse-sense and make sure that your rock-bottom position maintains that ever-important extended or neutral position to keep your numbers going up and the chiropractor away.

1) Snatch 1×5@50%, 1×5@60%, 1×5@70%, 2×5@80%, 1×5@70%

2) BNPP 1×5@50%, 1×5@60%, 1×5@70%, 1×5@80%, 1×5@70%

3) Lunge in front rack (%1rm front squat) 3 each leg 1×1@50%, 1×1@60%, 1×1@70%, 1×1@80%, 1×1@70%

4) Good morning 4 sets 0f 5 at high intensity

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