Hockey Training EOTW: The Basic Front Squat

iStock_000025128685XSmallHappy Hallowe’en!  In typical Hallowe’en fashion, it is pouring rain here in London, ON so the kiddies are going to be wearing garbage bags over their costumes.  Seems like it is either pouring rain or snowing.  But, I don’t really remember that dampening our fun when I was a kid, so I am sure they will be fine.

Before we talk front squatting – want to send out a congratulations to the Boston Red Sox and specifically their Strength & Conditioning Coach, Mike Boyle on their World Series win.  You have heard me mention Mike before and a lot of you are familiar with his work already.  Mike has been a great mentor to me and thousands of strength coaches around the world.  He is a great guy, a Boston guy and now a World Series champ – no one more deserving than Mike!

The Basic Front Squat

I think of this exercise as such a staple in our hockey training that I forget to go over the technique with you some times.  As you may know, we don’t do back squats in the Revolution Gym anymore.  There are a few reasons, but essentially, it is easier to squat heavy and poorly in the back squat position than it is in the front squat position, we will leave it at that for now.

I also love the Barbell Front Squat because it is the finish position for the Clean which is one of our ‘go to’ explosive power hockey training exercises.  The ‘catch’ of the Clean requires good mobility at the shoulder and some time spent front squatting will let you know loud and clear whether or not you have that mobility.

The basic version of the Front Squat I am showing you today is a ‘no hands’ version that we use to teach this exercise because it forces you into proper position AND it forces you to keep the weight light while you perfect the movement pattern.

My suggestion is to work on this version for at least two weeks and then move on to the ‘regular’ Front Squat.

If the video does not appear in the player above, simply click the link below…
http://youtu.be/TfHzGLK5KMw

Muscles Used:

I love this exercise because of the load on the extensors of the hip and knee (your skating muscles).  So the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings play a big role, but it also puts your back extensors under a load to stabilize your torso.

If you cannot get into the squat position, then it could suggest either a mobility or a stability issue and you should not try to force your way down into a lower squat.  If you feel like you are getting ‘stuck’ then step out of the rack and just work on going through the pattern with just your bodyweight to learn the pattern first.

Key Points:

  • Start with just the bar.
  • The first thing to move should be your hips moving back (rather than your knees moving forward)
  • Keep your arms straight
  • Look straight ahead, not up to the ceiling
  • Squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor
  • If at any point in the movement your butt tucks under (butt wink), causing you to round a bit in the lower back, then stop.  You need to clean up your pattern before you continue.

How Often?  How Many?

When you are learning with light weight, try to work this into your routine twice per week for 2-3 sets of 8 repetitions, you can even use it as part of your dynamic warm up.

Happy squatting 🙂
Cheers, M

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Maria Mountain

Maria Mountain is a Fitness Coach and the owner of Revolution Conditioning in London, Ontario. She helps hockey players from AAA to professionals compete at their highest level while reducing their risk of injury. Dedicated to athletes who want to work hard, but train smart.

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