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Squatting With Your Core - This Powerful Technique Can Make You Stronger in the Squat Instantly!

 

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Squatting With Your Core - This Powerful Technique Can Make You Stronger in the Squat Immediately!

Home -> BetterU News Archive -> Issue #30 -> Squat With Core

By Nick Nilsson

Squatting is a total body exercise. When you learn how to use your core muscles to push when you squat, weights you've struggled with will FLY up!



Squatting is simply one of the very best exercises you can do for building muscle and strength. Period.

What would you say if I told you that your body has the potential to lift 10% or more weight in the squat RIGHT NOW, with just a small adjustment in how you perform the exercise?

Today, you're going to learn exactly how it's done. You're going to learn how to use your core muscles to not only stabilize your upper body during the squat (the regular squat technique), but to actually help PUSH the weight up as well. This is how you will be able to use more weight instantly - you'll be using more muscles to push the weight up!

It's an extremely powerful technique that will not only help you use more weight, it will help you develop incredible core strength, power and stability. In fact, use of this technique while squatting can even help you become a more powerful athlete because it teaches you how to use your core muscles to not only stabilize during but to actively participate in powerful movements found in most sports.

The result: a stronger throw, a higher jump, a more devastating punch and a more powerful kick.

Before I go on to explain the technique for improving the squat, you need to know how to properly perform the basic squat. For information on how to perform the squat, please click on this link:

"You Don't Know Squat About Squats"

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How To Squat With Your Core:

Teaching you how to use your core to push during a squat is not a one-step process, nor is it something that comes naturally to most. I'm going to take you through several progressions that will force your body to learn the technique so you can immediately apply it to your squatting.

First, we need to pre-exhaust the muscle of the core. Pre-exhausting is a technique whereby you work a single target muscle group in isolation, e.g. flyes for the chest, before working it in combination with other muscle groups, e.g. bench press for the chest.

Why on earth do we need to pre-exhaust the muscles that we're trying to use to make another exercise stronger? Won't that defeat the purpose of the technique?

The answer is simple. When the core muscles are fresh and unworked, it would be much harder to actually feel how we want them to work. When we pre-exhaust them with one specific exercise (which I will teach you) then work them another specific exercise (which I will also teach you), the core muscles will be the weak link and your body will be forced to use the core to push in order to actually perform the movement.

It's basically a way of selectively exhausting your core muscles to make you feel them working in the way we want. Without pre-exhausting, the core muscles won't be forced to work like this and it wouldn't teach you the technique.

The exercise we're going to use to pre-exhaust the core is called the
"Cable Gripping Trunk Twist." This exercise targets the entire group of core muscles in a rotational movement.

I will not go through the full technique of how to perform the exercise right here. To learn how to do the exercise, please see below.

Perform two sets of 8 reps of this exercise with 30 seconds rest in between the two sets. You should feel all the muscles of the core tighten up from this movement so be sure to work it hard.

Now we move directly to the exercise that will teach you how to push with the core. Your core is pre-exhausted and ready to go. The exercise you will be doing is the "Low Pulley Deadlift."

Attach a straight or cambered bar to a low pulley. Use a fairly heavy weight for this exercise (the whole weight stack may be necessary). The execution is very similar to a standard deadlift.

Get into the start position, making sure your lower back is arched. Now take a few steps back, away from the pulley, taking the weight with you. This angle on the pulley you get from stepping back is critical in teaching you how to push with your core.

Now do a deadlift movement but keep the knees fairly bent and focus primarily on straightening at the hips rather than the knees (you'll want to keep your knees bent throughout the movement). You should notice your core muscles immediately quivering as tension shoots through that area.

The Low Pulley Deadlift

The Low Pulley Deadlift The Low Pulley Deadlift

In order to even perform the movement, you now have to use your core muscles to push up. Without pushing with the core, you'll pitch forward due both to the angle of the cable on the low pulley and the direct backward force you need to exert to keep from falling forward.

Perform 2 or 3 sets of 8 reps of the Low Pulley Deadlift, focusing as hard as you can on pushing your torso straight using your core muscles. This exercise is all about learning to feel the core pushing, not necessarily about working the muscles. Using enough weight is very important to learning that feeling so don't go too light with this exercise.

Once you can reliably feel your core muscles pushing in this exercise, you're ready to apply it to your squats.

Load the squat bar with weight you'd normally use for about 8 reps. Do one set of squats as you normally would, not pushing with the core. Push yourself but not to failure with this set - stay a few reps short of that point.

Now we're going to apply what we've learned about pushing with the core. Using the same weight as your first set, go down to the bottom of the squat as you normally would. As you start to come up, push with your core muscles, just like you did when performing the Low Pulley Deadlifts a few minutes ago.

I like to imagine my core muscles compressing like a coiled spring as I lower myself down to the bottom of the movement then expanding as I come up. Visualization in this manner may help you achieve the proper focus as well.

This pushing with the core should allow you to squat up more easily than in the previous non-core set. The core is no longer a passive stabilizer but an active participant in the movement.

It will take a little practice to get your mind into the technique but the results are very much worth it. You could be squatting more weight more comfortably in a matter of minutes!

Practice the core pre-exhaust Cable Gripping Trunk Twist and Low Pulley Deadlifts regularly to not only help teach your core to push but to strengthen it as well. The carryover in strength to the squat is tremendous!

While your squat form may not visibly be any different when you do this squat, this unique focused activation of the core will result in significantly increased power and strength in the exercise.

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The Cable Gripping Trunk Twist

This is the exercise you will use to pre-exhaust your core area in preparation for the Low Pulley Deadlift.

This exercise is a variation of an exercise you may already be familiar with. The exercise this variation is based on is commonly known as a "Cable Torso Rotation." This variation takes this basic concept and adds a unique twist that literally doubles the effectiveness of the exercise.

This movement is done on a cable machine. If you have access to a machine that has an adjustable height pulley, this is the best option. If not, it will also work on either a high or low pulley. The movement itself is exactly the same regardless of where you pull from.

Set the pulley to about belly-button height (or use either the high or low pulley) and attach a single cable handle to it. Use a fairly light weight to start so you get an idea of how the movement is performed and what resistance you'll need.

Stand perpendicular to the pulley with your left side towards the pulley. Grasp the handle with your right hand and take a step to the right. Plant your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart and get ready to rotate. The movement itself is very similar to a baseball swing, making it a very effective sports-training movement not only for baseball but from any sport that requires a powerful transfer of force from lower body to upper body.

At the start of the movement, your right arm will be held across your chest with your left arm at your side. Initiate the movement by rotating your torso to the right. Be sure to keep your elbow slightly bent and locked into position. If you allow the elbow to bend, you will turn the movement into a side row, lessening the effect on the obliques. Keep that arm stiff and fairly straight!

When you start this rotation, begin bringing the cable around in front of your body by pulling on the cable handle with your right arm. Your right arm will come away from your body as you rotate, placing more torque on the obliques.

Here comes the trick that doubles the workload on the abs...

As you start to approach the midpoint of the rotation, grasp the CABLE about 6 inches from the cable clip with your left hand. Do not grasp the handle itself with the left hand - it's important that you wrap your left hand around the actual cable for this to work. Read on...

In a normal cable rotation exercise, after you go past the halfway point of the rotation, the tension on the abs will start decreasing. The peak tension is at the halfway point. We're going to fix that!

Once you've passed the halfway point of the rotation, continue pulling the handle with your right hand but now start PUSHING forward and away from your body on the cable itself with your left hand. As a visual, think of the string games that kids play such as the Cat's Cradle.

What you're essentially doing is creating a new fulcrum for the tension of the cable to go through. Instead of losing some tension around the arc as you normally would, you now have direct tension on the abs again and in a different way than in the regular rotation exercise. This not only works the obliques on the pulling side with the pulling motion, it also works the obliques on the pushing side with a strong pushing motion.

The effect on the abs with this double movement is tremendous! The next day you should have a very strong feeling of tightness (and possibly soreness) in the upper/side ab area.


How To Do Cable Gripping Trunk Twists:

  • This exercise is amazing for building up the strength and power of the core area and creating eye-popping oblique development.

  • Start with only your right hand on the handle. As you come part way around, place your left hand on the CABLE and start pushing with that as well.

  • It's critical that you keep the right arm slightly bent, stiff and straight out in front of you. If you let it bend, you will turn the exercise into a sideways row, which will reduce it's effectiveness.

  • As you come around past the halfway point, you will be primarily pushing with the left hand on the cable, dramatically increasing the torque on the abs in this exercise.

 

Cable Torso Rotations - Start
Cable Torso Rotations - Halfway
Cable Torso Rotations - Finish
Cable Torso Rotations - Position
  • This pictures demonstrates the position of the left hand on the cable at the end of the movement.

  • The cable is bent about 90 degrees at the end. The right arm is only stabilizing the movement now and the left arm is pushing against the resistance.



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