Functional Training – Part 3, The Full Squat

Posted on 21 June 2010


The following 3 part series is from RaceTwitch Pro-Team member, Kata Gemes.   Kata lives in Budapest, Hungary and has extensive experience  coaching athletes with functional training programs including:   Pilates-method, yoga, body art, Berczik-method, weight training and cross training.   The coaching focus is to prevent injuries and overload.   Other aspects of her coaching include core training and generall nutritional consulting based on an evolutionary views.

As a runner, swimmer, cyclist  we have all incorporated specific movements into most of our training. In addition to the specific sport disciplines, some of us sit in front of a computer at our desk 8 hours a day. We have the same movements millions of times. Your muscles, joints,  and bones adapt for these same movements. If you repeat the same functional movements one type of then the result is a decrease in the functional use of muscles and joints.  The “cross-over” effect will reduce the efficiency of the movements for your specialized disciplines of  running, swimming and cycling. You will experience that in spite of all the training your overall improvements will stagnate. Functional weakness of the body can lead to injuries.  To avoid this overspecialization an athlete should build functional exercises to their training programs. These basic exercises with a focus on functionality of the body provide benefits such as, functional strength, balance, speed, and range of motion. The results will be a healthy, strong body and an improvement in the athlete’s specific performance.

I would like to introduce one of the basic, fundamental exercises, which is highly recommended for everyone to add into the training program:

The Full Squat

There is several types of squat, but one of the most functional is the full dynamic squat. This type of squat improves strength in the leg and core muscles while improving cardio fitness and speed.

1. The  exercise  should be done in barefoot or a very thin shoes (not in your running shoes)! Keep your feet parallel and shoulder wide or a little wider. Keep your weight in the outer side of your sole. If you can elevate your toes from the ground then your position is good.

  1. Push your bottom/back down, and lower the position till you can keep your soles on the ground. Keep your knee and ankle parallel, don’t let them turn inside.
  2. Start raising your position, while you exhale from your abdominal and contract your bottom muscles. Start the “rise” from your bottom muscles but also work with the hip extensors and the abdominals.
  3. Finish the movement by bending your hip forward while you exhale and contract your leg, bottom and abdominal muscles together. Stretch your knee in the same time pulling your patella up at the end of the movement.

Do it slowly in the first time, and after you had learned the proper technique/movement you can increase the the speed. However, good form of the movement is the most important not the speed!

Don’t do too many repetitions at the first time! Stop when you feel your muscles getting fatigued, take a short recovery, then you can continue with the next set. Three sets is enough. Don’t do the exercises every day.   It’s important to take a day or two of rest before doing the squats. You may consider increasing the repetitions to 20-30 per set over time.  For additional strength and power benefits you can easily add weights or resistance bands.

Consider adding the full squat to your regular training program!!  Have fun.

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