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Stronger Athletes

Safe, Effective Strength Training for Athletes

November 3 "Morality is contraband in war." -Mahatma Gandhi

Squats - Can We Do Better?

Question the importance of squats on any lifting forum on the net and typically you'll get back a range of responses from necessary evil to better than sliced bread. Some people love pushing the squat so much they'll tell you you need to do it if you want a bigger chest or arms. And then a breath or two later explain the principle of SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) without blinking.

Squats, though a good leg exercise aren't necessarily the best choice for every single athlete that comes through the doors of the weight room. In other words, as we stated in a previous article, "We would like to emphasize that there is nothing magical about placing a bar across one's back to develop lower body strength. "

Whether or not the squat is the right choice depends on several things:

  1. Does the movement fit the subject's body. Is he 6'10" or 5'10"?
  2. Do you have a safe setup for performing squats? If a power rack is unavailable, do you have competent spotters available? Enough racks or spotters that you can run the team through the lift in a time efficient manner?
  3. Are there prior injuries that need to be compensated for, or that make performing barbell squats difficult? For example, if a player's injured shoulder doesn't allow the hand to get back to grip the bar properly, then you should be looking in another direction than the barbell squat for leg and hip strength.

There are various squat machines, leg press machines, hip sled machines, lunge movements and body weight squatting movements that also strengthen your legs as well as squats do and possibly in a safer manner.

Sufficient strength can easily be acquired with movements and methods other than the barbell squat. Many athletes are too tall or don't have the right lever arms for proper (safe) form in the squat. Many athletes exhibit too much forward lean in the squat which places more stress on the lower back. Leg presses, step ups, or lunges would be a better option for these athletes to safely acquire the strength they need.

In summary we should be thinking about the athlete, any limitations they have, and how to deliver that athlete a safe, effective, time efficient method of strengthening the legs. The weight room is a tool for an athlete to utilize to develop strength. It's how the strength gained in the weight room is brought to bear on the playing field that matters, not how the strength was developed in the first place. Don't lose sight of that.

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