What is the Ultimate Squat
You work hard. You run hard, you lift hard, you train hard. You eat properly. You sleep properly. But what if I told you that no matter how hard you work, you can’t possibly reach your full potential until you master one exercise? And this exercise looks deceptively simple—it requires no weight and no equipment. In fact when we were toddlers we were masters of this exercise.
The exercise in question is the deep squat hold (DSH). Many people in developing countries have become accustomed to assuming this position for extended periods during their daily lives.
Becoming familiar with this position practicing this exercise can have extraordinary benefits for athletes.
I started practicing the deep squat hold back in 2015 when I felt that my flexibility was not where it should be and I was enduring more pronounced back pain. My first efforts were pretty pathetic but over the course of a few weeks I was able to sit deeper and sit for longer in the position.
I was intrigued at the start that such a natural position for a human being could be so much harder than it looked. The deep squat hold is a basic fundamental thing a human should be able to do, and I couldn’t. I had been doing all this training in the gym but somewhere along the line I had missed this fundamental component of human movement.
I began to practice the position and I got more comfortable with it, I found that my performance in the gym was markedly improving. I was suddenly knocking out Deadlifts from the floor with a neutral spine, squatting deeper, experiencing less low-back pain and feeling sore in the glutes and hamstrings instead of just their quads. And I will mention again - I experienced less and less of the low back pain that had plagued me for years.
Why Should I Do This?
I advise using the deep squat hold for two reasons: it’s a great measuring tool, and it increases performance in weight training and on the field if you are a sportsperson/athlete. The issues you encounter when attempting a DSH say a lot about your body. I believe that you can tell a lot about a person just by watching their feet as they try to get into a DBS.
For instance if your toes are shooting out, you are likely likely have limited internal hip rotation. If your ankles are collapsing in, you might have limited ankle flexibility. Same thing if you struggle to keep your heels on the ground.
The DSH can give you insight into what your mobility and flexibility issues are. The DSH is a key window into pretty much everything your body is going to do. A Squat, if you look at it from the hips down, is just triple flexion and triple extension. Which is exactly what athletes need.
Triple extension refers to the simultaneous extension of the hips, knees and ankles, which is crucial for nearly every athletic movement from jumping to sprinting to changing direction
The way a person squats is the way he or she is going to do everything else in terms of training or for that matter just normal everyday movement and activity. The squat movement is the foundation of our motor patterns. Ankles, knees and hips, flexing and extending those joints at the same time is the basis for every type of athletic movement no matter the sport or the type of training you are doing.
I believe that most of us train only half of our range of motion with a traditional squat, which is limits our athletic abilities.
Essentially, if you’re only training the top range of motion of your Squat, you’re only training half of the motor patterns.
What Does It Look Like?
The DSH looks simple. You set your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and pointing straight ahead. You want equal weight distribution in your feet, meaning your heels stay on the ground and weight is distributed over the arch. You want to lower your rib cage and hold a neutral spine. When you drop into the Squat, you don’t want your knees to move forward or your back to arch. Just drop your butt straight down. As you squat, you want your knees over your pinky toes. Keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.
The key for the DSH is that you go well past parallel—and hold it.
How Do I Do It?
You probably won’t be able to execute a proper DHS right away. Don’t worry, few can. For beginners practicing the position you should find an anchor to hold onto. The first time I tried it I feel over backwards when trying to go deep. To assist me I used the bannister at the bottom of my stairs. Pull on it just enough so you don’t fall over backwards.
This will allow you to get deep into the position without using all of your energy just to stay upright. I would suggests sitting in the assisted DSH position for about a minute a day until you feel comfortable without assistance. Do it either prior to your workout or after an extended period of sitting or standing.
As you become more comfortable in the DSH, your flexibility and mobility will slowly improve. When you’re ready, ditch the bannister or squat rack for support and work toward a true DSH. When all is said and done, you should be in a position that looks something like what shown in the picture above.
Hitting that position is a big accomplishment, but how long should you hold it? Despite some sources claiming you should hold it for extended periods of time (10 minutes or a half hour per day), I suggest holding it at least once each day for as long as you can as it’s beneficial to hit that position every day. Mobility is medicine.
Just hit the position every day. If there is a time that you should be able to comfortably hold it, several minutes is where you want to be, and then be able to stand up with no pain.