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VAHVA Fitness

The Form Should Follow the Intention

By VAHVA Fitness on January 26, 2020

The right form is the form that corresponds with your intentions. Learn how to bring sophistication and precision to your training.

Take any exercise. By adjusting the form of it, we can emphasize different parts of the body through stabilization, weight distribution, and muscle control.

A good exercise form requires intention and understanding of the body-mechanics that produce the movement. When you know what constitutes the basic form of a given exercise you can manipulate the form to suit different purposes.

There doesn't exist just 1 form of an exercise that is the best for everything. In fact, relying on just one form often leads to various problems.

We want to develop the body as thoroughly and versatilely as possible and to do this we need precision and some sophistication.

Let's illuminate this with 2 different squat variations. Back Squat and the Leg Press Squat. 

The Leg Press Squat

leg press quads squat athlete 20xx
  • Keep constant forward lean and the same hip angle 
  • The forward lean keeps the resistance on your legs from start to finish
  • The core (abs and lower back) has to be as rigid and as stable as possible to maintain the posture
  • Go only as low as you can without compromising your posture!

Leg Press Squat is a form of a squat that minimizes hip extension by keeping a constant forward lean. A very similar type of exercise you can find from Athlete 20XX.

Hip extension is present but it's not dominant. Rather, the muscles responsible for hip extension such as your hamstrings and glutes are stabilizing the forward lean of the upper body.

Your core then again stabilizes the spine from arching or rounding with a strong isometric contraction.

By doing this, your knee joints become the main movers in the squatting motion. This puts the greatest focus on your quadriceps muscles.

It's literally almost like using the leg press machine but your body provides the support – not the machine. This way, the transference to athleticism is also significantly greater. You are not just training the muscle – you are learning how to control and move the body.

The Conventional Back Squat

  • Fully extend (straighten) the hips at the top 
  • Go only as low as you can without compromising your posture
  • Avoiding leaning too much forward

A traditional Back squat transfers workload from the quads to your hip muscles. hamstrings and glutes pull you up as you simultaneously press with the quads.

But why would anyone do a squat such as the leg press squat? Usually, everyone is concerned about how to better activate their glutes in the squat.

Even though people, in general, would use their quads a bit more than their glutes this still doesn't mean the quads would always get worked thoroughly.

What happens is that the conventional back squat emphasizes more the glutes, hamstrings and lower back than the quadriceps compared to the leg press squat.

Poor squat mechanics and overly dominating hips can leave the quadriceps partially undeveloped. This can lead to knee pain, compromised performance or make you more prone to injuries due to imbalances.

Undeveloped quadriceps can lead to:

  • Structural imbalances
  • Decreased performance
  • Knee pain (many times knee pain is merely the result of lack of proper quadriceps development)
  • Increased chance of injury

For example, at the very end of the repetition when your knees are closing full extension, this is rarely done with control. Instead, the knees are snapped straight.

The Human body is masterful at finding paths that take the least resistance. This is why you need to know what are you training for. Are you trying to build a skill to lift heavy or are you trying to develop a more balanced body?

The key point is awareness and intention during training.

Often the only standards for a good squatting form are a straight back and full range of motion or squatting ATG – ass to grass.

For everything there is the optimal weight and the optimal range to work with. A lot of people watching this video will think that all of these exercises should be performed ATG (ass to grass) with the maximal amount of range of motion.

There is nothing wrong with this but ATG squat is just a different exercise that emphasizes different parts of the body and develops the body in a different way.

ATG squat is good but these are not ATG squats – these are different exercises for different purposes.

Sometimes less range is more optimal depending on what you are trying to target and emphasize. The range shouldn't bypass quality.

Remember: The right form is the form that corresponds with your intentions!

Awareness & Intention

Learning how to control specific parts of the body will lead to learning how to move them all in synergy. The most complex movements consist of the same simple basics!

When it comes to the exercise form, all human movements consist of the same building blocks. Something is moving (developing mobility) while something else is stabilizing (developing stability).

Both of these are forms of strength and need to be thoroughly developed. Training both mobility (strength in the range of motion) and stability (the ability to stabilize the joint) will lead to adaptability.

When you learn to activate, move and stabilize specific areas of the body, you will eventually learn to move multiple areas in synergy. This is ultimately the secret of the artists and athletes.

You are ultimately cultivating awareness of your body and mental control over the muscles. When you do this, your training is no longer just physical but mental as well. Utilizing a proper form is always a mental challenge.

Learning how to "isolate" different body parts with your mind (the form should follow your intention) in separation is the first step to learning how to move them in conjunction with detail and sophistication.

In Athlete 20XX we are learning how to control the body – we are fundamentally studying the body to learn how it moves. Movement 20XX teaches how to move the body, Athlete 20XX teaches how the body moves.

Athletes and dancers are often amazing at moving their body but you would be awestruck by how many athletes and dancers have little to no understanding of how the body functions outside the skills of their craft.

All human movements whether it is sports, dance or martial arts fundamentally consist of the same attributes and basic patterns. Something is always moving and something is always stabilizing. 

Master both and there will be no limits to your ability.

VAHVA Fitness

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