Stability and the Squat: Front-Loaded versus Back-Loaded Squatting—Part 4

by Richard Ulm, DC, MS, CSCS
NSCA Coach June 2017
Vol 4, Issue 4

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Squatting may be commonplace in the weight room, but proper execution of this great exercise is difficult. Strength and conditioning coaches will need to properly select exercises and cue their athletes in a way that not only allows for a proper stabilizing strategy to occur, but promotes it.

Over the previous three articles of this four-part series, many different aspects of stabilization in strength training were discussed. The first article covered proper trunk (or spinal) stabilization (25). The second article introduced the concept of functional capacity (FC) and described a compensatory stabilizing strategy in the strength training population called the extension/compression stabilizing strategy (ECSS) (26). The third article introduced exercises designed to increase an athlete’s FC for proper trunk stabilization to address the athlete resorting to the ECSS (27). The final installment of this series on stabilization will focus on a common exercise utilized in strength training: the squat. To many strength and conditioning coaches and athletes, the squat is a pillar of lower body training. For those involved in functional training and who utilize functional assessment, the squat is also of central importance.

As pervasive as this movement is in strength training and rehabilitation, it is often taught in a way that perpetuates the ECSS. This article will compare different squat variations as they pertain to stabilization and discuss technique that preserves and promotes proper stabilization strategies. The purpose is to shed light on these issues in hopes of helping to better apply the concepts covered in this series of articles more effectively in training (25,26,27).

This article originally appeared in NSCA Coach, a quarterly publication for NSCA Members that provides valuable takeaways for every level of strength and conditioning coach. You can find scientifically based articles specific to a wide variety of your athletes’ needs with Nutrition, Programming, and Youth columns. Read more articles from NSCA Coach »

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For almost 20 years, Richard Ulm has been involved in the strength training field. As both a strength coach and a physician, Ulm has worked with athle...

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