Get your knees out!

lil bit of information
"Push your knees out!" "Drive through your hips"  Among popular discussion with the squat is toe position and knee's out. While the scales are beginning to tilt towards toe forward on squats the jury is still out. As for knees out, that verdict has been made and proven over and over again.
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Lets begin with terminology!

  • Agonist muscles - cause joint motion through a specified plane of motion when contracting concentrically (muscle shortens during force production)  also called prime movers.
  • Antagonist muscles - located on the opposite side of joint from agonist. Have opposite concentric action. work in cooperation with agonist muscles by relaxing and allowing movement.
When squatting the initial problem is that both agonist and antagonist fire due to the unfamiliarity of the motion. Eventually we develop a cognitive  memory of what muscles to fire and what muscles not too. That's cool and all but how is it fixed? In due time, lets address the muscles that are fighting each other. 

The piriformis is an agonist that creates hip extension. This is important when dropping into the squat position and pushing the knees out. We EXTEND the hip by depolarizing (activating) the piriformis. On the opposite side we have to polarize (deactivate) the adductors  [adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus]. These muscles cause the hip to pull the knees together. This is helpful when extending the hip to standing but not with knees out. By learning to depolarize the piriformis while not using the adductors we stretch the adductors to the max and therefore reach the limit of their extensibility [that's where the bounce comes from, not from the knees... unless your form is horrible..] Squat to depth and activate the Posterior chain, so that the drive up is using the muscles of the hamstring and hips much more effectively.

Take away:
The only way to improve the agonist/antagonist fight is to mentally tell yourself to drive your knees out. decrease the weight until you can effectively squat with knees out [leave your ego at home]. Develop hip flexibility by doing passive and aggressive hip stretches. Work on the posterior chain with good mornings and RDL's.

There is no specific plan for improving knees out but i will attempt to write up an accessory workout plan for  squatting form.

Stretches: Mobility WOD hip stretches try this out, look around the site
Squat: [max weight that can be squatted with knees out] 3 sets x 10 reps
Front Squat: [max weight that can be squatted with knees out] 3 sets x 10 reps
RDL: >225x 3 sets x 6 reps
Stretches: Mobility WOD hip stretches, static stretches for hamstring and hip

Sources used:
(1)Active Hip 2.0:  The Directors’ Cut by Mark Rippetoe and Stef Bradford
(2)The Hip Joint: Part one by Tracy Anderson

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.