Having a good squat helps you with a ton of things in sports and life. Like, being able to land in your full range of motion, tuck better in your flips, or to take a dump more comfortably in seatless toilets. You’d be surprised with the many people around us who would struggle to go past parallel in the squat, when in fact, our human body are designed to squat all the way down. Modern lifestyles have made our hip/knee/ankle joints stiffer, so we should actively work to regain that mobility.
- Spend some time in the squat, waking up the joints and muscles, finding any discomfort or weaknesses.
- I like to tiptoe forwards and rock backwards to my heels, rock to the sides of my feet, rotate around a lil bit, get my body as close to the ground, and then straighten up as much as possible, do a couple of different twists, and just generally move around and find as many different areas to hit as possible.
- Feel free to walk around in the squat or in a low position (crawling).
- Lastly, I like to do some air squats, going to the deepest I can each time, gradually increasing in speed.
- This is how I usually warm up before every training, and I highly recommend you guys to do this too!
1. Assisted Deep Squat
- First off, working on our depth is priority – the idea is to be able to get your butt all the way down to your heels.
- The best way to work on that is to grab onto something and go as low as you possibly can and just hang around that area while getting a good stretch out of it.
- Eventually, you want to rely less on the wall and start to hold that position with just your muscles and less assistance.
- If you can already squat deep, try to get your butt to touch the floor and get back up.
- Another way to stretch is to have your back leaning against the wall while having your heels as close to the wall as possible. As you go to your deepest range, hug your knees towards you to get a little more stretch.
2. Ankle Dorsiflexion Stretches
- Apart from being able to get your butt to your heels, getting your knees past your toes is the next way to get closer to the ground.
- One of the best ways to work on is to go into a lunge position, and trying to push your knees as far forward as possible while keeping your heels on the ground.
- Having good range in dorsiflexion is crucial not just in the squat, but to avoid the very common ‘ankle thingys’ you get from bad landings in Parkour.
3. Squat Bows
- This one works on your lower core strength and pelvic mobility, similar to the pancake stretch.
- You should active be driving your body close to the ground.
- Make sure to keep your heels flat on the ground.
- This is also what would help you with that Paper Challenge thing you see on Instagram.
4. Squat Pushes
- This works on your hip external rotation, i.e being able to open your hips as wide as possible. Having good inner leg mobility will allow you to squat deeper and more comfortably and avoid your knees to cave inwards (valgus knee).
- You can first push one knee outwards as far as possible (trying to straighten your elbow)
- Next, you should try to actively use your inner leg muscles to open your knee as far as possible (it’s okay if you rock towards the sides of your feet)
- For a killer exercise: Go into a wider stance, and try how deep you can squat. Once you’re there, push your knees apart with both arms.
5. 90/90 Squat
- I love this one, it’s a great way to warm up the inner hips and there’s so much you can do with this. It works both internal and external rotation of the hips.
- From a seated position, twists your hips to one side and have both your knees make a 90 degree angle. Then, twist to the other side! Keep your body upright, as that would make it harder.
- At the end of each position, it is possible to lift the both foot higher (pressing down on your knees) to increase the range a little further.
- In the middle position (where both knees are pointing upwards, you can also lean forward to get good stretch in the inner hips too!
- Lastly, challenge yourself by entering the 90/90 from the squat position, and getting back up to the squat from the 90/90.
6. Narrow Squats
- It’s not a very common position to be in as you have much less surface area on the ground so you’re working a lot on your stabilizer muscles, especially your shins!
- In order of difficulty, I’d say it will be: Squatting all the way down, heels grounded, getting feet together, knees together, arms all the way up, look up, straighten your back.
- This position is important tho, because in parkour, most of the time we will be landing with feet together.
7. Hip Flexor Elevated Lunge Stretch
- Doing this stretch elevated is one of the best ways to get a deeper hip hinge.
- Sink in all the way down and find explore different areas to hit to fully tackle the hip flexors.
- You can do the same for the pigeon stretch to attack the glutes!
8. Cossack Squat
- Start your cossack squat in a slightly wider stance and lean towards a side. The squatting leg remains flat on the ground while the other leg is outstretched and on the heels. This works you on a different plane (side-to-side) and also introduces you to putting more weight on one foot.
- Do a couple of repetitions moving side-to-side, trying to keep your hips as low as possible. You can play around with the angle of the body (being upright or as close to the ground as possible) as it will give you a different stretch.
- The outstretched leg will receive a nice hamstring stretch, and you can experiment with a little internal/external rotation by getting your toes to touch either side of the ground.
9. Overhead Squats
- Don’t neglect your core/upper body positioning in the squat!
- Having good mobility with your lowerback, upperback, and shoulders are key to having a full utility in the squat. It is also important if you’re looking to do olympic weighlifting – Snatch, Jerk, Overhead Presses.
- Find a light pvc pipe or a broomstick and bring it overhead. Gradually descent to a squat while trying to maintain balance and body uprightness. The pipe/broomstick should be travelling up and down on a straight line.
- If you find yourself leaning too far forward, regress by doing it leaning against a wall first.
- Do a couple of shoulder dislocates to loosen up the shoulder muscles.
10. Pistols and Shrimp Squats
- Considered a milestone of bodyweight leg strength, and a very important one to get!
- Unilateral strength and stability are important in Parkour as we find ourselves taking impact a lot on one leg (strides, unexpected bails, even while running!)
- Take your time progressing to this. Check out Ryan Ford’s article on the topic of Pistol and Shrimp squat.
Additional Tips? Learning how to back squat with weights definitely made me a much more mobile squatter than before. I highly recommend weight training as it taught me so much about mobility and strength!
If you’re interested to learn more about achieving better squat mobility, do consider attending my online classes where I teach just that! To register, click here.
All the best in your Asian squat journey!
CP / Denester