Jump to content
Rob

Achieving Deck Squats

Recommended Posts

For as long as I can remember, I have had trouble getting to the deep squat position while barefoot. I will fall backwards. I can almost manage it with sneakers on, but not without reaching my arms out in front and flaring my knees out or with a wide stance. Forget about hugging my knees or bringing the feet together.

Working through Foundations has me stuck at Deck Squats for this same reason. I can't get my weight above flat feet. To even get back on my feet, I need to thrust off the ground in at the apex of the roll, and even when I do manage to complete the roll into a rough squat, I will almost always stumble backwards while thrusting up.

The mobility prescription given with this exercise is not helping and it's clear to me that I need to take this into my own hands. I've got some serious ankle sprains in my past, so I'm sure that needs work. But I also have a feeling that there may be issues with my hip mobility and in my core compression, since when I roll forward, it's impossible for me to roll into a wide stance... the feet always come together.

I'm not fat or out of shape, I'm 27 years old, thin and athletic, but when I ask my non-athlete friends, there are a few who seem to have no problem achieving this feat, which leads me to believe that I might be working against anthropometrics.

I was hoping Kit or someone else might provide me a plan to remedy my lack of squat mobility.

Ido Portal just updated his squat routine... any idea if this could help?

And finally, what's the current consensus on whether the feet need to be parallel when squatting?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just watching this last night. He talks about foot position in this vid.

It's worth noting that Ido believes the whole feet parallel position is, in his words, bull****.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess it depends on which brand of Kool-aid you prefer then, I guess. If you're having problems and imbalances, to my mind it's worth taking a look at more stable positions and determining your baseline from that starting point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Liv is going to answer on this (but I will pre-empt her; we have the famous Yuri here, as we are hosting him here in a workshop tomorrow).

Ankle flexibility is the key. See here:

more to come; must sleep now

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I prefer no Kool-Aid at all!

And hanging around in the full squat bottom positions (even if you do need a board under your heels to start with) is gold. All the movements that Ido is doing can be done, but the ones he demonstrates are just the beginning. If you think about it, Cossack squats and Skandasana ​are both squatting movements, too, just extreme ones.

Craig M on the forums here showed me something a couple weeks ago I want to share. He began with his back to a slidey wall and his feet at hip width and about one of his own feet lengths away from the wall. He then slowly slid his back down the wall until he was in a full squat but, unlike the people who can't fall squat in space, the wall holds you in position and forces a tighter bottom position. He recommends spending at least 10 minutes there. As you stay there, you can feel everything in the ankles and hips loosening slowly (and you try to wriggle further and further down the wall until your bottom will press against your Achilles tendons, too).

Then you can shuffle your feet together or make a new start with the feet together and once you're in the deep bottom position tried to pull your chest towards your knees while trying to straighten your back. You will feel this inside the hips themselves.

Last, yesterday Yuri showed me a move from the deep Cossack squat position to the lunge position and I will shoot this soon: it's brilliant. And the more time you can spend in any of the squat positions the looser your ankles and hips will become. Ankles are the key (and why the OP mentioned falling over backwards).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To the OP...

In terms of the Foundation series, I skipped the deck squat because I spent so long on it with little progress. The mobility for deck squat was also super difficult for me.

I went ahead and started on cossack squats and they seem to be providing much more progress than the deck squats.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I skipped the deck squat

You bad boy! :)

That Cossack/Skandasana series (see my YT channel) in my view is superior for many reasons (including active flexibility for gracilis) BUT once you have learned how to activate the glutes (using SSS and weighted Cossacks) AND assuming you have done all this properly so you now have the ankle flexibility, then go back to the deck squats. Liv will post her approach to deck squats here (she is flat out on something else at the moment) but Steve Maxwell's additional movement (that is not part of the foundations you have all been working on) is the missing part, IMHO.

The additional movement is sitting in the bottom position of the SLS, with one leg held in front (held with a straight arm, if you are loose enough, or held with the HFs), and while balancing in this position, lifting yourself up just an inch or so, and holding for time. This is the secret. It gives you all the ankle flexibility you need and max. glute activation as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yikes that additional movement sounds intense.

The interesting thing about the deck squats was that I was actually able to achieve mastery in sets/reps, but I'm pretty sure my form was poor.

I found myself rocking too far backwards and was basically spring loading my neck for extra power to come up into the squat. This was causing some neck pain issues for me so I stopped.

I think if I had better ankle flexibility and was able to assume the ATG squat position without so much effort, that additional power from loading my neck would not be necessary.

I'm actively working on my ankle flexibility. It will be interesting to go back to deck squats once I can comfortably sit in a deep squat to see if there is an improvement in my form.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zach wrote:

It will be interesting to go back to deck squats once I can comfortably sit in a deep squat to see if there is an improvement in my form.

There will be, for sure. Holding the bottom position, as described above, is the key (most people's glutes are simply inactive in this part of the ROM, and if they are, you are not getting up from that position). The first time I tried this exercise (in combination with the speedskater squats held for the time) the next day my glutes were too sore to sit on the toilet; I literally had to hover above it.

This is probably "TMI" but I mention it because it is SO effective.

***TMI: too Much Information!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Guys,

The back to the wall squat is critical in my opinion. Ido's stuff is great but requires a full squat to begin really. I like to choose a position that when I drop down and wedge myself against the wall, the heels are just off the ground (I'm talking <5mm here). Under so much load for time, the calves will be forced to relax and lengthen, allowing the weight to sink into the heel (and increasing your ankle flexibility at the same time!).

Also generally loosening of the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and adductors will aid you greatly.

As a side note, I believe the best way to measure your squatting capacity is to put your finger on the achilles, then move it up the back of the leg. An average squat should see the finger go no further than the bottom of the calf before it can't go any further (glute will be in the way!). A really good squat should see the finger go no further than the achilles tendon. This is something everyone can achieve, regardless of proportions. A person with a long femur might be able to get the butt to the heels, which may not be possible for people with a shorter femur.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will take some pics of Mountain Hammer in the full squat position he is advocating; I must say I have become a fan of this position, even though I have a decent full squat. So much is going on in the body in this position; and the even better one is the same basic position, but with knees pressed together hard; you are trying to straighten your back as you pull the knees into the chest. Massive internal hip effect for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who have a full squat and can do Ido's stuff:

We did some simple partner squat stretches yesterday. When you're in the squat position the partner sits on your upper-/middle back facing away from you, pressing you diagonally down and forward. Great for the ankle flexibilty. Then spread your knees wide and let your torso drop down and forward and feel the stretch in the hips. We did about two minutes each with one or two C-R. I went from barely touching elbows to the ground to touching my forehead, and sitting up in the squat after that was a much deeper position. Try it and comment!

I think I'm gonna try it with the bottom position of cossack squats next time, see how that feels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The additional movement is sitting in the bottom position of the SLS, with one leg held in front (held with a straight arm, if you are loose enough, or held with the HFs), and while balancing in this position, lifting yourself up just an inch or so, and holding for time. This is the secret. It gives you all the ankle flexibility you need and max. glute activation as well.

This is great fun. To be able to easily set up in the bottom of SLS is quite a revelation for me. Love having my horizons expanded. Thankyou

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Partner squat stretches are great. Yesterday Craig and I were helping each other in the Skandasana bottom position (Like the Cossack, except feet are turned out and body is horizontal to floor and you are holding both ankles; I have a YT clip on this. And (for me) all he did was lean on my hips, and I was able to get right down to the floor—and that is half a side split.

Lester is demoing Skandasana in this clip, at around the 7:48 mark:

Making it only half a SS reduces the fear factor enormously, and really helps loosen that gracilis/inner hamstr. line. It feels great.

@edna: lowering to that bottom position and holding that (lifting up that inch or two) is THE KEY to SLS. That's a Steve Maxwell tip, BTW, and it's the best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another report from my squat-experimenting... :)

Combining the squat position with what Kit shows here:

but with a golf ball, I started up in the fold of the knee and worked down toward the ankle and hip. Found some very sensitive spots on the way. Give it a try, golf balls are not hard to find and they can be a good massage tool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
but with a golf ball

Hard core, bro.

Very effective, though. Partner Cossack and (for me) Skandasana is the secret to getting the legs apart. Going to shoot this soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I run an Intermediate-level 'all-in-one' class on Wednesdays; all-in-one means we do limbering/mobility, bodyweight strength work (there's no equipment in the room bar chairs and walls), and stretching each 90-minute session. Intermediate just means that the students have gone through an introductory course of stretching/strength so they have some experience. The group of 22 is diverse; oldest is mid 70s, youngest early 20s, males and females about 50/50.

Three weeks ago we devoted the first hour to deck squat progressions, and by the end of the hour about 50% of the group were doing deck squats well while the other half were struggling. This week, we did almost the same sequence again, and 100% of the group were able to do full deck squats, plus some were progressing to coming up on one leg. One woman, who the first session could hardly make herself roll back even starting from a seated position, did a deck squat from a one-inch mat. Awesome!

Pretty hard to describe the whole sequence in words only. When Kit is back in Canberra in two weeks, I'll ask him to film the sequence we did and we'll load it up as a YouTube clip. Stay tuned!

In brief, the focus was: hip/knee/ankle and lower back warm-ups, combining active and passive mobilising/stretching; drills to get the hip flexors actively pulling you down through the squat; drills to get the glutes firing in the bottom part of the up-phase; learning how to roll (for many people this is frightening!); doing the deck squat from a thick mat which is progressively lowered (and/or using a partner assist) so that the movement is achievable and the body/brain can learn/feel how to do it; and, very important, doing gazillions (Craig's word!) of them so that the movement gets grooved into the body!

Cheers

Olivia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"gazillions": that's the secret! (plus not being afraid of falling, because you have practised gazillions of rolls). Yes, OP, we will shoot this definitely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another update on the calf massaging / variation on Kit's dowel sequence:

calf_hang.jpg

I've been doing this in the fold of the knees but it didn't take long before the sensitivity there was gone and hanging like that was easy, so today I went down 8-10 cm as you see in the photo. Very painful but it felt great. No way to cheat the intensity without landing on your head. :) I also tried this on the hip flexors and highly recommend giving it a shot, I was completely unprepared for how sensitive that area was.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...