The barbell back squat is the cornerstone movement of the Power Athlete Methodology. All of our programs get a heavy dose of squatting each week. While we are firm facilitators of this toes forward tool, some of our higher skill level programs like Field Strong and Jacked Street take the back squat a step further (pun intended) to continue to challenge athletes. Adjusting the set up and foot position of a squat goes a long way for identifying limitations, targeting weaknesses, and driving adaptation.
One of our favorite adjustments for the squat is moving legs into a split squat stance and raising up onto an active foot. Originally thought to be an accessory movement for our beloved back squat, a fateful run in with now dear friend of Power Athlete, Cal Dietz, changed our perspective on the value of this squatting tool.
Talking with Cal brought an inspiration and appreciation for this movement. The split squat was not about how much weight you were able to load and move, it was how you moved. The load is used to overload and force an athlete to move well, challenging position and drive specific adaptations. Whether it is a safety bar, belt squat, or barbell, this position gets the athlete up onto the ball of their foot, allowing them to drive the big toe down, which in turn helps sequence the proper firing pattern for the posterior chain of glutes → hamstrings → opposite QL. Dietz takes a deep dive into the specific topic in his 2019 Power Athlete Symposium presentation linked below.
Empower Your Performance: Coach Needs A Coach
The split squat is a fantastic tool for evaluating and correcting an athlete’s limiting factors in the toes, foot, and lower leg patterning. Limitations found in the foot or firing sequence carry directly over to sprinting, movement through space, and sport skill. If left unaddressed, these limitations could negatively affect performance, or worse, potentially lead to an injury such as an ACL tear. While I can blog about athlete limiting factors all the live long day, it is coach limiting factors that really gets me riled up.
Before I met Cal Dietz in-person (randomly in the Atlanta airport train car and asked him on for PA Radio Episode 232), I had read Triphasic and thought I “got it” when it came to his methodology and coaching movement. This was a rookie move where I expressed the coaching limiting factor of ego. In this podcast and multiple conversations to fellow, I put my ego aside, asked curious questions and listened with intent to further my bandwidth as a coach. Coach needs a coach. Whether you’re attending a conference, chatting with a parent, or run into a random coach in the airport, assume the person you’re listening to might know something you don’t that one day you can use to empower performance.
EDU: ACL Injury Prevention by Power Athlete Academy
PODCAST: PA Radio Ep 274 – Cal Dietz Strong Feet, Strong Butt
PODCAST: PA Radio Ep 232 – Cal Dietz Triphasic Training For Sport
BLOG: Triphasic Training on Field Strong by Tex McQuilkin
BLOG: Power Athlete Squat w/ a Staggered Stance by Tex McQuilkin
BLOG: How Isometrics Can Change Your Life by Tex McQuilkin
TRAINING: Field Strong 7-Day Risk Free Trial
John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.
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