I love squatting. Goblet squats open up your hips, single & double (kettlebell or barbell) front squats build posture and abbies, and overhead squats, well, they’re miserable. And the squat snatch? That’s miserable and scary. I’m more of a squat clean guy when it comes to the Oly lifts. You can’t drop the bar on your head doing one of those. Not that I’ve dropped a bar on my head. Or back. Or hit both of my knees on the downswing of a kettlebell clean. Twice. Nope! That surely doesn’t sound like me.
Kettlebells are very different from barbells. I know. That just blew your mind, didn’t it? Take a second. You alright? Good! Like I was saying, you can’t load up a 500 LB bell like you can with a with a bar (unless your name is Atlas). So less weight means less lower body power. However! The goblet squats & and single/double front squats we do with a bell ain’t about all about lower body strength — it’s about full body strength from your toes to your eyebrows. Our client Steve, commenting on upper body strength gains from double bells in the racked position, stated matter-of-factly, “If I put someone in a chokehold right now, they’d be f**king dead.” He was alluding to the anaconda-like upper body Squeezy-Strength (PATENT PENDING) he’s developing from double kettlebell work.
[Disclaimer: We at Primal Fitness Pittsburgh do not condone choking people to test strength gains.]
The goblet squat makes you go as low as you can go, or, as they say in caveman-speak, “Heavy thing make human squat good.” Some days the goblet is for stretching, on other days it’s part of the workout. Our students have and continue to make fantastic progress with this type of strength and mobility work. I’ve even got my 58 year old father easily breaking parallel with a 24 KG bell held out in front of him. Elbows between the knees and everything! Dan John style.
Speaking of the man with two first names, Mr. Dan John has a thing for snake analogies. Big snakes, specifically. Dan compares double kettlebell fronts squats (DKFS) to “wrestling an anaconda” as the weight of the bells gives the sensation of being compressed by a very large, very long, ver hungry jungle snake. So what do you do when being squeezed by an anaconda? Squeeze back! Dan J. calls this “Anaconda Strength”, and defines it as “the internal pressure required to heft, pull, and carry heavy weights.” Think “inner strength”. No, not that emotional perseverance kind of “inner strength”…the lift-heavy-stuff kind. Anti-squishy. Squeezing every muscle in your body. Try it now. Doing it? You are now a walking, talking isometrically-held oxygen-filled meat bag. How long do you think you can squeeze for? (Giggle)
Among other examples, Danny Boy lists the double kettlebell clean as great method for building your non-squishy, snake-resistant self. And what goes well with a double clean? Why a double kettlebell front squat of course! Fill your inner inner-tube, clean the bells, hold that pressure, and squat down! The kettlebell snake will try to squeeze you, so squeeze back! Find a way to breath. This may sound crazy, but as my Systema instructor Fred says, “Breathe around the pressure”. So if you can’t inhale with the diaphragm due to the the bell weight, breathe “through your back”, where the pressure isn’t. That may sound crazy to some of you. But give it a try. Picture oxygen flowing in and then out of your lumbar region. And one more thing: At the bottom of your squat, DO NOT TUCK! No “tail tucking” or “butt winking”! Any trainer worth his salt and/or protein shake will be critical of your form at the bottom of a squat. And if they aren’t, feed them to your anaconda.
So we’re going to do a lot of ***king squatting this month. And I’m going to be the Tuck Nazi. Just like anything else we do, this is not an effort to strengthen an isolated region of your body. Quite the contrary. Think of the mobility needed to execute a perfect deep squat. Think about the fatigue you upper arms experience whilst holding the bell out in front for a series of goblet squats. Think of the anguish that, well, your “everything” feels on set four of front squats during a power training session on Saturday morning. Take inventory of your body. Is it your butt and quads screaming the next day, or is it your upper back, arms, and abbies? Are you sore because of bad form, or because you kept yourself tight and did it right? (Hey, that rhymes!)
Here’s a workout I’ll probably put you guys through — Mr. John calls it “The ButtBurner 4000”. There are 2 movements: the goblet squat, and the Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing (BGBS). The BGBS is a hip hinge while holding a weighted bag. That’s the kind of thing Ryan would do in his sandbag courses…which you slackers better be singing up for. But, for this workout, if you don’t have a sandbag, or a goat-sized bag, or access to goats to fill said bags, then just do heavy kettlebell deadlifts or swings. So, The ButtBurner 4000 is as follows:
– Perform one goblet squat, then one Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing (or DL or SW).
– Perform two goblet squats, then two Bulgarian Goat Bag Swings (or DL or SW).
– Now, three and three. Work your way up to ten and ten…
If you hit 10 sets, that’s a total of 55 squats and one very irritable goat. So remember, when you do this workout, don’t blame me. Blame Dan John. Just like I blame all the leg, torso, and pushup holds I have you do on Sonny Puzikas. They made me do it!
In summation, we can conclude that, (1) Squats aren’t all about your legs, (2) Front Squats are miserable, so do them frequently, (3) And most importantly, anacondas would be good at the clean & front squat. If they had legs. And arms. And feet. And a gym membership (Note to self: Snake Gym). So come join us this Squat-tober, and we’ll show you all about Squeezy Strength (PATENT STILL PENDING).