Deconstructing Kettlebells: Squats

In the previous installment of Deconstructing Kettlebells we looked at basic hinge patterns, AKA the deadlift and the swing. In this week’s blog we tackle squatting patterns – looking at the goblet squat, the front squat, and the pistol squat.

 

Squatting is an essential movement pattern. Squats hold benefits for walking, climbing, stepping, sitting and standing, and lower body strength. In addition, the squats introduced today also will help develop core muscles through abdominal pressure in how we will hold the kettlebell(s). 

 

Now, I love me some barbell squats, and I love deadlifting even more so, but kettlebell squats are NO JOKE and can take your training to another level!

 

GOBLET SQUATS

 

The first item up today will be the goblet squat. When introducing squats into a kettlebell program, this is usually where I begin (assuming they have cleared screening and show reasonable mobility).

 

 Top of the goblet squat

Top of the goblet squat

 Bottom of the goblet squat

Bottom of the goblet squat

Goblet Squats

1.      Find a shoulder-wide stance, while planting your heels on the ground firmly.

2.      Grab the kettlebell along the horns and hold in front of the chest. Do not rest the bell on the chest.

3.      Make sure your toes are tracking you knees, you may need to slightly turn your toes out (external rotation).

4.      Push your hips back and lower the body down slowly.

5.      Go as deep as you can control, which may require you to open your knees more.

6.      Keep your head in a neutral position and your spine as straight as possible.

7.      Brace your core and stand up.  Squeeze your glutes and quadriceps at the top.

Variations

Bottoms up goblet squats, Front Squats using 1 or 2 kettlebells, Overhead Squats using 1 or 2 kettlebells, Pistol Squats

 

FRONT SQUATS

 

Front squats are one of my favorite moves. First, because of the offset positioning the bell is (which kicks your core's ass). And second, they are very humbling for those that have lived under the leg press and barbell to change things up a bit.

 

 Top of the front squat called the rack position.

Top of the front squat called the rack position.

 Bottom position of the front squat

Bottom position of the front squat

Front Squats

1.      Find a shoulder-wide stance, while planting your heels on the ground firmly.

2.      Grab the kettlebell with one hand along the handle and hold in the rack position. The bell should rest in the natural "V" provided by the forearm and upper arm. The thumb should be able to touch the collarbone. Women, the arm position may flare slightly to accommodate for the chest

3.      Make sure your toes are tracking you knees, you may need to slightly turn your toes out (external rotation).

4.      Push your hips back and lower the body down slowly. Reach with the unloaded arm to help maintain alignment.

5.      Go as deep as you can control, which may require you to open your knees more.

6.      Keep your head in a neutral position and your spine as straight as possible.

7.      Brace your core and stand up.  Squeeze your glutes and quadriceps at the top.

 

Variations

Front Squats using 2 kettlebells, Overhead Squats using 1 or 2 kettlebells, Pistol Squats

 

Note:

With both the goblet and front squat, notice the parallel lines that are created by the tibia (large bone of the lower leg) and the spine. This shows a good squat depth and is an indicator of sufficient mobility and stability in the body.

 

PISTOL SQUATS

The pistol squat is a movement that is very challenging on many fronts. Balance, mobility, stability, strength, and concentration all have a roll in effectively navigating the pistol. There are many precursors and compensatory movements that we implement when learning a pistol, but I felt compelled to introduce this movement. The pistol is not for everyone and should not be used as a party favor or bar trick ;-)

Pistol Squats

1.      Take a narrow stance, while planting your heels on the ground firmly.

2.      Grab the kettlebell along the horns and hold in front of the chest. Do not rest the bell on the chest.

3.      Extend one leg in front of you and balance on the grounded leg.

3.      Make sure your toes are tracking you knee, you may need to slightly turn your toes out (external rotation).

4.      Push your hips back and lower the body down slowly. As you lower down, the elevated leg may rasie up and not touch the ground.

5.      Go as deep as you can control, which may require you to open your knee more.

6.      Keep your head in a neutral position and your spine as straight as possible. Use the kettlebell for counterbalance if needed.

7.      Brace your core and stand up.  Squeeze your glute and quadriceps at the top.

Variations

Bench Pistol Squats, Double Kettlebell Pistol Squats, Deck Squats, Pistol Deck Squats

 

There are dozens of variations of lunge patterns, step up patterns, and correctives for an improved squatting technique. The goblet and front squat are a great foundation for new kettlebell training participants and strength training enthusiasts. The pistol is an advanced movement and should be treated as such. 

Next installment of Deconstructing Kettlebells will cover the TGU, Turkish Get Up, or the Get Up.

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