I love squats. I truly believe that they are the most important weight training move we can perform. If there was only one lift you could do, I wouldn’t hesitate to make it the squat. Far beyond simply improving your power, squats have a beneficial effect on your hormones.
Testosterone levels are also influenced by the amount of muscle mass activated in response to exercise. Overhead squats, jump squats and free-weight squats all produce large increases in testosterone.1,2 As much as the bench is considered a power movement, to get your testosterone levels skyrocketing, get under a squat bar. Although most people would rather perform a bench press than jump under a squat bar, the bench press is not going to increase testosterone production like a squat.
I also hate squats. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know that my state of being for the last 12 calendar months has been one where my hip flexors are tight or impinged. I’ve powered through, which has rendered a significant percentage of my workouts a mental and physical grind. The anticipation of (and ultimately, experiencing) pain equals less productive, less enjoyable sessions, obviously.
I know my body well. There are times when it sends a strong signal that continuing on with my current move will cause damage. These are not those times. I’m not making it worse, but I’m certainly not doing my overall state of well-being any favors.
A few days back, I lifted with my friend Cassidy. She and have performed various workouts together over the last few years and without fail, between sets we discuss our respective ailments. She complains about her shoulder from some paddle boarding or spear throwing incident and I bitch about my hip flexors. She talks about her bulging disk (or whatever) from running 34 miles then teaching two spin classes, and I, once again, bring up my hip flexors.
Due to the lack of variety in my ailments, Cass has gotten sick of listening and sick of watching my squat depth get shallower and shallower. Like the good friend she is, she asked me if I’d follow a mobility plan if she were to write one for me. What a doll.
I answered affirmatively. I didn’t have much of a choice. We often talk about taking a step, and clearly my strategy of doing nothing and complaining about it isn’t making a difference. It’s time for some trial and error.
Yesterday, she delivered on her plan.
I hope this email finds you less grumpy than the other morning 😉
I thought of a million variations of mobility routines you could do for 15 minutes including bands, balls, barbells and all sorts of kinky things but then I thought to myself, this is Gabe. So instead I came up with something shorter that you can do AND can be on your lap top at the same time!
- Couch Stretch- 2 minutes each leg
- Elevated Pigeon- 2 minutes each leg
- Sitting Bottom of the squat like you see me doing all of the time. Sit in your heels pressing your knees out with your elbows keeping a tall spine. 2 minutes here.
I dare you to do this errry day and tell me your hips ain’t opened up.
Too bad I missed you here in Utah, Its super amazing. I’m going to get my picture taken crawling in some mud and climbing some ropes now.
Challenge accepted. Last night, I performed the work out and sent her a quick reply.
“Just did the routine. Squat position was hell.”
Sitting with her number 3 form, attempting to keep a tall spine, was no fun. I’m committed to this. I’ll keep you posted.
Matt Lane says
Broke my hip 4 weeks ago, 3 screws inserted. What exercise plan would you suggest for someone coming off this injury? Way out of shape, need to shed lbs.
Gabe Kapler says
Thanks, Matt. Stay tuned on this question.
Hmmm…I have been struggling with tight hips since returning to ballet a year ago (after 16 years off). I may have to give this a try, since the usual things don’t seem to be working for me.
Gabe Kapler says
Thanks, Dina. Keep us updated.
I’ve had this same problem for over a year now. I tried multiple different stretching programs. Some took a half hour or more and none of them worked. I hope this one works for you but if not I finally found one that worked. Basic runners lunge stretch for one minute on each leg and then 4 sets of a reaching bridge. On your back with feet flat and shoulders and head on ground, bridge up the hips and reach across your body at 90° as far as you can, come back to center and using the same hand reach 45° by the ear. Repeat on the other side and then extend each leg out separately while holding the bridge.
Worked wonders for me. I was spending an hour a day doing stretching and foam rolling and know I spend about 10 minutes for much better results.
Hope that helps.
Gabe Kapler says
Strong take. Thank you.
Kap,This is fantastic! I’m a catcher and routinely perform variations of both #2 and #3, but that first form is a new one. I can’t wait to try this out! Thanks!
Gabe Kapler says
Thanks for stopping by, Scott. Tremendous.
As always, a post that is completely relevant to me. Thank you for sharing. This will absolutely help!
Kara Jackman says
I need these stretches too. keep sharing, so we can both keep healing.
Dave Pomerantz says
My wife has been struggling with tight hips since her cesarean section in January. I can’t wait to share this with her! Thanks, Gabe.
This couldn’t have come at a better time, Kap! Been dealing with hip ‘problems’ for several years (I suspect a partially torn labrum but the MRI later this month should provide more info) and I’ve been searching for better ways to stretch my hips prior to workouts. Much thanks!
Kap, I hope you’re foam rolling as well. I foam roll the hell out of my hips, butt, hams, quads (inner thigh too) and even my hip flexors. This has helped my squat position immensely. Plus, i will take a lacrosse ball to my calves and the bottom of my feet to loosen that tissue. You may check out Kelly Starrett as well. He’s got a book called, “Becoming a Supple Leopard” as well as a YouTube channel with a ton of useful videos.