Power Athlete’s Field Strong program is currently working through a bridge week in preparation for the new Post Activation Potentiation (PAP) cycle. Bridge weeks are all about movement selection. Movements we prescribe either target common limitations, like trunk strength or foot health, will be relied on heavily in an upcoming cycle, or are new and will challenge their athleticism.
With new movements we encourage athletes to load up, go as fast as they can or focus on exploring and learn about how their body moves through space.
A valuable component of Field Strong is our ability to provide coaching and feedback for movement on the TrainHeroic feeds. This is excellent for any barbell, plyometric, or movement coaching an athlete needs, and I love the feeds when a bridge week rolls around. Especially this week when we introduced my hands down favorite tool I picked up from Raphael Ruiz, Squats w/ Staggered Stance.
League of Shadows
I first was exposed to this movement years ago during my time training with Raph. We had a wide ranging group of athletes, including Olympic swimmers, pro-baseball players, military, and a whole gaggle of teenagers. No matter the training goal or experience, the stagger stance was applied during squat sessions.
Raph has A LOT of movement tools he applies but this one in-particular fascinated me. I tried to figure out why using my movement detective powers, but couldn’t quite see the big picture at the time. So I asked him, “Why do we stagger squat so much?” He proceeded to laugh as he took as a seat on a box, handed the class reins to the other coaches, and casually rolled into a whole breakdown of the X-Axis and squat development.
“…athletes learn about themselves..”
As Raph walked through the impromptu squat lecture, he dropped this knowledge bomb and rolled through like it was nothing, but I took note. With the uncoordinated high school volleyball girls training around us, he had a dozen examples of limiting factors the staggered squat would attack. He even reverse-engineered their court performance into the squat and through the warm up.
Whether it is loading up with a goblet or back squat position, the staggered stance provides immediate feedback for athletes on their quality of movement. The slight adjustment in foot position splits the body in half and allows for the athlete (or coach) to find limitations hiding in a bi-lateral squat.
Athletes need to focus on executing this squat as if both feet are aligned, maintaining midline stability and avoiding favoring either leg or rotating at any point in the rep. Focusing on a normal line of action will help find a disparity between right and left Achilles, the presence of navicular drop, or limiting factor in the feet that can drift up the chain into the soleus or calf.
Squatting with a staggered stance is an incredible assessment AND corrective exercise. Ruiz always stressed the importance of making athletes aware of their movement dysfunction and putting them in a position to lose or regain good position in training. This movement is the perfect expression for athletes to learn about their dysfunction AND the opportunity to fight to maintain position. This fight will correct, develop, or strengthen the back foot’s tri-planar arch, Achilles and musculature of the lower leg as well as work the front leg’s posterior chain stabilization and hip control.
We have even thrown this tool into our at-home training program, Third Monkey! If loading options are limited and you’re still getting after your training, nothing better than changing stances to target and overload limitations.
Empower Your Performance: Coach Needs a Coach
Athletes want things fast and easy, but athletic development is a long term process. Every rep is building a foundation for them to continue expanding their athleticism. What was a single movement that sparked a why led to a deeper understanding of the importance of movement selection in a program.
The importance of bridge weeks in Field Strong for movement discovery cannot be understated. Numbers on the barbell do not tell the full story of an athlete’s abilities. While big lifts are fun for coaches and athletes alike exposing athletes to new movements and finding things they can’t do will take them further in the long run. If you’re interested in learning more of how Raph thinks and views athlete preparation, check out his presentation from the 2019 Power Athlete Symposium.
More About Field Strong
Field Strong is a performance based training program for field and court sport athletes, fighters and anyone who is looking to put pinnacle performance in front of anything else. John Welbourn, 10-Year NFL Veteran and Founder of Power Athlete, exposes members of Field Strong to the advanced training techniques that contributed to his career playing professional football.
Do you like what you’re reading here? Thinking you want to take a run at Field Strong?
Are you a Field Strong Athlete? How’d you enjoying those squats with a staggered stance?
EDU: ACL Injury Prevention – Power Athlete Academy
PODCAST: PA Radio – Episode 174: Raph Ruiz
BLOG: 4 Magic Movements to Fix Your Squat by Tex McQuilkin
BLOG: Attacking Limiting Factors: Squat Initiation by Tex McQuilkin
BLOG: Training Foot Health: Shoes Are The Devil by Dr. Matt Zanis
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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