Approaching The Bar: Part 2

15 Mar

How do you prepare yourself for a big event?

Are you the type who gets riled up, or are you calm and collected?

Which strategy do you feel gives you the best shot at executing at the highest degree of what you are capable of?

For me it’s always been a deep focus, and a calm, collected demeanor. There’s a mini version of an Under Armour “protect this house” commercial going on inside, but I don’t let the excitement take over.

If I let the inner Ray Lewis out all the time I would not be able to effectively do the things I am going to talk about below.

Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday:


The first thing I do is put my hands on the bar evenly spaced. Next I place my feet under the bar in the stance I would use to squat. At this point I am still in front of the bar. The next step is to lock the shoulder blades down, swing under the bar and arch hard into the bar on the other side. Now I’m effectively in position under the bar with the weight still racked. This is where I hit my check list:

Hands tight, wrists as straight as possible. At the very least I have forward pressure on my hands actively trying to keep the wrist straight. Head is pushed back into the bar, head position is neutral (double chin). Shoulder blades are pulled back, lats are locked.  Elbows are forward, as close to under the bar as possible.

Lower back is arched  hard. My hips (glute meds) are flared out, my ass is as big as possible. Knees are turned out to track toes. Big toe and just below my pinky toe are gripping the ground. Outward pressure on the lateral heel.

This checklist is very important. If I don’t feel everything with that weight racked I’m going to feel like crap after I walk it out. Furthermore, if I feel it here, I can lock into this same position after walk out without needing to take much time.

I didn’t talk about what my “core” is doing during that check list.

I take three breaths before I actually squat. Each breath marks the 3 steps I take before squatting, and it’s helped me become patient. Learning patience has been huge.

I breathe through my nose into my stomach, utilizing diaphragmatic breathing. This helps me activate all the inner stabilizers (muscles you can’t see) of the torso.  I won’t get into the details of breathing. Breathing is very important. It can be practiced and trained. I wrote a small bit about it here.

Breath one is taken right before I swing under the bar. Breath two is taken during the check list process, right as I pull the elbows under the bar hard, I take a big breath into the stomach and brace. Breath three is taken right before I descend into the squat. I will pull the elbows under hard, take a big breath into the stomach, brace, create outward pressure on the lateral heel and  attack the squat.

Once I go into attack mode all I’m thinking about is keeping the elbows forward, head back. If I keep that upper half locked in I will stay balanced and be able to leverage against that weight with my hips.

My biggest cues for people during the squat are the following:

1. Head Back / Elbows Forward

2. Outward pressure on the heels

3. Hips back out of the hole

Those three cues during the movement will set you up for success. Pick one per training session until it’s ingrained.

Tomorrow I am going to talk about the deadlift, and over the weekend we’ll talk about the bench, stay tuned!



3 Responses to “Approaching The Bar: Part 2”


  1. Approaching The Bar: Part 3 « Greg Robins - March 16, 2012

    […] to part 3 of this Approaching The Bar series. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 click the links and catch […]

  2. Good Reads of the Week: Edition 5 | LaVack Fitness - April 1, 2012

    […] Ward Intermittent Fasting: Part 1 and  Part 2 – Kiefer John Approaching The Bar Part 1 and Part 2 – Greg Robins You Are Setting Yourself Up to Fail – Greg Robins Managing Training for […]

  3. Squat Better – 3 Things To Think About « Greg Robins - May 8, 2012

    […] Approaching The Bar Part II […]

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