Don’t Slam The Door When You Squat

“Say what?  That’s it. He’s lost it” you’re all thinking.  That very well may be the case but bare with me on this topic anyways as I explain.  When squatting; back squat, front squat, squat clean, regardless; do not slam the door!

In a class recently I was helping correct an athlete’s squat.  I honestly do not remember what type of squat we were performing that day.  But that does not matter.  As I said, this applies to them all.  I’m not really sure where the analogy came from but it was just there in my head.  Perhaps from an angry six year old the night before?  I’m also not sure on that one either.  Still with me?  Ok, here we go.

First think of those flimsy interior doors on every bedroom in every house.  They usually have some kind of thing built in to the hinge or that little thing on the baseboard that every kid flings and it goes “dooooiiiiiiiinnnngggg” back and forth (fun right?!).  If we swing that door open really fast and really aggressive, it smashes into that device and then usually the wall and then swings back closed or partially closed.  This is the same as squatting and not maintaining tension throughout the movement.  In a squat clean for example, we clean the weight and crash down into the bottom.  We “bounce” out of the bottom, as we should, but we do so because of end range of motion.  The door was swung open really fast and smashed off the wall and came back.  This places tremendous stress on our tendons and ligaments; those things that hold joints together (bone to bone) and muscles to bones.  Not a healthy thing to do.  We are definitely going to make holes in the wall and ain’t no one like holes in the wall!

Now, lets take a look at a different kind of door.  I’ll use the door from the lobby into gym, or the door separating the stairwell from gym at 306.  These doors have those “tension thingys” (that’s a technical term) at the top of them.  The doors open and close freely and without much resistance when moved slowly.  Think of warming up and moving through some air squats to prime that range of motion.  However, if you try to swing those doors open really fast in an effort to smash a hole in the wall (please don’t try it because I have to fix those), the tension thingy holds it back and provides more resistance and holds it under tension.  The door “moves with purpose”.  The tension thingy keeps it tight all the way to the open position and then provides tension all the way to the closed position. That’s how we want to squat!  We want to have that tension all the way down.  In the most common example of a back squat, we want to be so tight at the top that we have to “pull ourselves down” to the bottom.  We then want to “bounce out of the bottom” because of muscle tension.  We want to recruit as much musculature through that squatting range of motion as we can to act as our “tension thingy” at the top of the door.  

So you see, I might have lost it but I still have some thoughts that I can tie together.  Hopefully this analogy makes sense to you and you can remember it the next time we are called to do any type of squatting in a workout.  Keep your door from smashing holes in the wall, which in terms of our body is “bouncing” off of end range of motion.  Think about having that tension thingy on you so that the heavier the load on your body, the more tension you place on it and can “bounce” off the tension thingy (your muscles).  

That’s good stuff right there.  I think. Happy squatting!