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Recently, I had a conversation with a guy at a commercial gym; we talked about barbell training. He heard about Starting Strength (SS) before, and as he knew that I coach people with the SS Method, he asked, “Why do you teach people to squat like a stripper?” 😂

Good morning! 

If someone has some slight exposure to the SS Method, the catchiest thing is that we squat with “HIP DRIVE.”

Hip Drive’s function facilitates a squat with an optimum moment arm distribution between the hip and the knees while maintaining a midfoot balance. And since the hip extensors are the strongest muscle group we have, we want to initiate the movement of the bottom by forcing our hip to extend. This way, we can transfer the force effectively from the floor to the bar.

Unfortunately, after watching this video, a lot of people think that the hips need to shoot up much more until the back angle becomes close to horizontal. As this happens, a lot of knee extension (straightening of the knees) happens at the start of the ascend. So if you can freeze the movement at that particular time, you will see that the knees are wide open (typically more than 90 degrees), while the hip angle remains acute (less than 90 degrees).

In the end, you will do a lot of work straightening your torso back to vertical at the top. Similar to the “Good mornings.” Coincidentally, lifters who frequent strip clubs remember this clearly as the “Stripper Squat.”

 

 

Our squat isn’t that sexy.

Sorry to disappoint you; that’s not the ideal squat that we do in SS. Although there’s a slight emphasis on “Hip drive” at the beginning of the motion, the back angle remains generally stationary during the first half of the ascend. So if the hip goes up by 10 cm, your bar will also go up approximately 10 cm.

 

 

What’s the issue with the Stripper Squat?

Well, if you are doing the movement in the gym (and not anywhere else), you’d most likely have the bar on your back. When the hip shoots up excessively and your torso becomes more horizontal, the chances are that your bar will start to roll up to your neck, causing you to fall forward. If the bar goes way forward of your midfoot and you’re not able to overcome the force pulling you forward, you will fall headfirst. Ouch!

Final Destination aside, if that doesn’t happen, the minimum consequence is that the force you exert from your knees and hips is not transferred to the bar. Again, I’m playing this video in slow motion. Notice that the hips went up a lot at the beginning of the ascent, but the bar doesn’t really go up much.

 

 

If you have this issue, there are few sources on how to “fix” your Stripper Squat. Some will give a few cues to work on. However, I want to convey 2 important points:

 

  1. Hip drive ≠ driving your hip back

Let’s clear it once and for all, when you are driving your hip back, the goal is not to drive your glutes as much as you can. Doing so will create an unnecessary moment arm and thus shift your balance from the middle of your feet.

Will it shift the balance forward to the toes or back to the heels? It depends. If the weight is light compared to your body weight, you will most likely feel the weight on your heels. The heavier it is, the more likely it will roll forward to your toes. So, since neither is good, make sure that balance stays at the centre of your feet. The pressure should be equal on the toes and the heels.

 

  1. Keep your back in rigid extension.

Human vertebrae consist of 33 individual bones that interlock with each other with facet joints. These joints allow some degree of bending and rotation. Under a load of the barbell, we shall not let the whole segment be flex. If it flexes, it doesn’t transfer force effectively. Thus no matter how much force you exert, the bar will not go up. We’ll use a book to illustrate back extension.

 

 

Well, that’s it for now! As a token of gratitude for reading this far, let me reward you with this video.

 

 

Bio

My interest in fitness started when I was around 19 years old. Being overweight for most of my growing up years, I decided to do something about it. After months of not being able to achieve the desired results, I began poring through books and articles about training and nutrition. The more I read, the more interested I became in this field, and got better results when the the newly discovered knowledge was applied. After 1 year of persistence and hard work, I lost 24kg and felt fantastic. The sense of achievement motivated me to pursue a career in working with people to help them achieve their own fitness goals.

After achieving my weight loss goal, I tried a variety of training programs for a few years, looking for a new goal to train towards. After aimlessly moving around from program to program, I chanced upon a book called Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, written by renowned strength and conditioning expert, Mark Rippetoe. Little did I know that this book was about to change my life and coaching career.

At that point, I had experience training with barbells and was relatively familiar with it but never have I come across any material that gave such explicitly detailed explanations of how to perform the barbell lifts. I devoured the book and modified my lifting technique and program. In just a few months, I was pleasantly surprised by how much stronger he had become. I now had a new goal to work towards – getting strong.

With full confidence in the efficacy of the Starting Strength methodology, I began coaching my clients using this program and got them stronger than they ever thought was possible. The consistent success my clients achieved through the program cemented my confidence in Mark Rippetoe’s teachings. I then decided to pursue the credential of being a Starting Strength Coach and I’m currently the first and only certified coach in Singapore and South-East Asia

In my 9 years of experience, I have given talks and ran programs at numerous companies and worked with a diverse group clientele of all ages with a variety of goals. Today, I specialise in coaching people in their 40s, 50s and beyond because it brings me a great sense of satisfaction to be part of the process of improving this demographics’ health and quality of life by getting them stronger.

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